Fitness craze grips nation
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