Fit­ness craze grips na­tion

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - Tendai Chara

FROM jog­ging to yoga, zumba, aer­o­bics and body­build­ing, Zim­bab­weans from all walks of life are seem­ingly en­chanted by the grow­ing fit­ness craze.

Fit­ness has grown into a se­ri­ous busi­ness with per­sonal train­ers, di­eti­cians, gym own­ers and those that sup­ply health sup­ple­ments cash­ing in on the trend.

Zim­bab­weans are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly aware of the ben­e­fits that come with be­ing healthy and fit, and are pre­pared to go the ex­tra mile to achieve their goals. They are leav­ing no stone un­turned in their quest for well­ness.

A silent war is be­ing waged against obe­sity.

Reg­u­lar ex­er­cise low­ers the risk of a num­ber of ail­ments, chief among them heart dis­ease, stroke, cancer and de­men­tia, among other chronic dis­eases.

Re­duc­ing weight and reg­u­lar ex­er­cise also re­duces stress and boosts con­fi­dence lev­els.

With the rise in health care costs and the un­cer­tainty in the health in­surance in­dus­try, it ap­pears Zim­bab­weans are elect­ing to use ex­er­cise as an ill­ness pre­ven­tive mea­sure.

Peo­ple from all so­cial and eco­nomic classes now re­alise that an ounce of pre­ven­tion is worth a pound of cure.

Zim­bab­weans are among the close to 2,1 bil­lion peo­ple — nearly 30 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion — who are ei­ther obese or over­weight.

Ac­cord­ing to the Zim­babwe De­mo­graphic Health Sur­vey (2015), 35 per­cent of Zim­bab­wean women aged be­tween 15 and 49 years are obese while 12 per­cent of men have the same con­di­tion.

The abun­dance of fatty foods, fizzy drinks and sug­ary treats as well as a lack of ex­er­cise are some of the big­gest con­trib­u­tors to obe­sity. With so­ci­ety mov­ing to­wards a more seden­tary life­style, there is a greater need than ever for peo­ple to par­take in daily ac­tiv­i­ties that main­tain both car­dio­vas­cu­lar fit­ness and body weight.

A tour of gyms and other health fa­cil­i­ties in Harare re­vealed that more peo­ple are ac­tively in­volved in fit­ness pro­grammes, al­beit for dif­fer­ent rea­sons.

Thom­son Ma­tenda, a phys­i­cal trainer who spe­cialises in fit­ness ex­er­cises for weight loss and for those that are hy­per­ten­sive and di­a­betic as well as fit­ness train­ing for sportsper­sons, con­firmed the grow­ing trend.

“The num­ber of peo­ple that are ac­tively in­volved in fit­ness pro­grammes is in­creas­ing. Apart from re­duc­ing weight, some of our clients are re­quest­ing for ex­er­cises that in­crease the level of fit­ness, im­prove car­dio­vas­cu­lar co­or­di­na­tion, power and strength,” Ma­tenda said. Ma­tenda runs boot camps that are usu­ally over­sub­scribed.

“The fit­ness craze is not con­fined to Harare. We have calls from peo­ple in ru­ral and min­ing ar­eas that are re­quest­ing us to in­tro­duce boot camps in their ar­eas. Re­cently, I was in Masvingo where the idea of boot camps re­ceived a thumbs-up,” Ma­tenda said.

Mu­gove Muhambi, a well-known kara- teka and phys­i­cal fit­ness trainer, also spoke of the grow­ing fit­ness craze.

“Zim­bab­weans are re­al­is­ing the need to get fit. As such, they are flock­ing to us seek­ing fit­ness pro­grammes that im­prove their well-be­ing. The de­mand for our ser­vices is over­whelm­ing,” Muhambi said.

Apart from train­ing the na­tional women’s cricket team, Muhambi also trains sportsper­sons and fit­ness en­thu­si­asts in and around Harare.

What is over­weight, obe­sity?

Over­weight and obe­sity are de­fined as ab­nor­mal or ex­ces­sive fat ac­cu­mu­la­tion that may im­pair health.

Body mass in­dex (BMI) is a sim­ple in­dex of weight-for-height that is com­monly used to clas­sify over­weight and obe­sity in adults. It is de­fined as a per­son’s weight in kilo­grammes di­vided by the square of his height in me­tres (kg/m2).

Over­weight and obe­sity

Once con­sid­ered a high-in­come coun­try prob­lem, over­weight and obe­sity are now on the rise in low and mid­dle-in­come coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly in ur­ban set­tings. In Africa, the num­ber of over­weight chil­dren un­der five has in­creased by nearly 50 per­cent since 2000. Nearly half of the chil­dren un­der five who were over­weight or obese in 2016 lived in Asia.

About 13 per­cent of the world’s adult pop­u­la­tion (11 per­cent of men and 15 per­cent of women) were obese in 2016.

The preva­lence of over­weight and obe­sity among chil­dren and ado­les­cents aged 5-19 has risen dra­mat­i­cally from just four per­cent in 1975 to just over 18 per­cent in 2016.

The rise has oc­curred sim­i­larly among both boys and girls. In 2016, 18 per­cent of girls and 19 per­cent of boys were over­weight.

While just un­der one per­cent of chil­dren and ado­les­cents aged 5-19 were obese in 1975, more than 124 mil­lion chil­dren and ado­les­cents (six per­cent of girls and eight per­cent of boys) were obese in 2016.

Glob­ally, there are more peo­ple who are obese than un­der­weight — this oc­curs in ev­ery re­gion ex­cept parts of sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa and Asia.

What causes obe­sity and over­weight?

The fun­da­men­tal cause of obe­sity and over­weight is an en­ergy im­bal­ance be­tween calo­ries con­sumed and calo­ries ex­pended. Glob­ally, there has been:

An in­creased in­take of en­ergy-dense foods that are high in fat; and an in­crease in phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity due to the in­creas­ingly seden­tary na­ture of many forms of work, chang­ing modes of trans­porta­tion, and in­creas­ing ur­ban­i­sa­tion.

The com­mon health con­se­quences of over­weight and obe­sity are non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases such as car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases (mainly heart dis­ease and stroke), which were the lead­ing cause of death in 2012;

Di­a­betes and mus­cu­loskele­tal dis­or­ders (es­pe­cially os­teoarthri­tis — a highly dis­abling de­gen­er­a­tive dis­ease of the joints).

Some can­cers (in­clud­ing en­dome­trial, breast, ovar­ian, prostate, liver, gall­blad­der, kid­ney, and colon).

How can over­weight and obe­sity be reduced?

Over­weight and obe­sity, as well as their re­lated non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases, are largely pre­ventable. Sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ments and com­mu­ni­ties are fun­da­men­tal in shap­ing peo­ple’s choices, by mak­ing the choice of health­ier foods and reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity the eas­i­est choice. At the in­di­vid­ual level, peo­ple can: ◆ Limit en­ergy in­take from to­tal fats and sug­ars, In­crease con­sump­tion of fruit and veg­eta­bles, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts; and En­gage in reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity (60 min­utes a day for chil­dren and 150 min­utes spread through the week for adults). Ac­cord­ing to the WHO, the food in­dus­try can play a sig­nif­i­cant role in pro­mot­ing healthy di­ets by re­duc­ing the fat, sugar and salt con­tent of pro­cessed foods.

The in­dus­try can also en­sure that healthy and nu­tri­tious choices are avail­able and af­ford­able to all con­sumers and also by re­strict­ing the mar­ket­ing of foods high in sug­ars, salt and fats, es­pe­cially those foods aimed at chil­dren and teenagers and en­sur­ing the avail­abil­ity of healthy food choices and sup­port­ing reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity prac­tice in the work­place. — The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Ulisses Jnr keeps a close eye on his trainee at a lo­cal gym

Mu­gove Muhambi leads a work­out ses­sion

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