Most recent global estimates indicate that 60% of the world population is exposed to health risks due to inactivity. As a matter of fact, physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for mortality worldwide (World Health Organization). It is linked (directly or indirectly) to risk factors of non-communicable diseases such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and the striking increase in overweight and obesity among both adults and children.
Benefits of physical activity
Physical activity promotes health across the ages. It promotes healthy growth among children and young people, helps prevent unhealthy weight gain, promotes muscle and cardio-respiratory health, improves bone health and prevents falls, and especially supports healthy aging- improving and maintaining quality of life and independence among older adults.
Now much as majority of the people would want to exercise, it is not easy to, particularly in the urban centres. One, there is so much traffic that even though you carried your gym bag, you end up changing route mid-way. Second, the rate of insecurity challenges early morning and evening runs, not to mention pollution and lack of running tracks. This leads me to the lack of recreation facilities. Back in the days, we had the YMCAs. While some are still in good shape and very functional, others are dilapidated or no longer exist.
Let’s start by reclaiming the recreation facilities that once existed. Besides helping people keep fit, this is where some of us learned to dance, which eventually became a source of livelihood guy for a good lot. It is also one way to promote community policing and reduce crime, so governors, learn from bwana Alfred.
Second, let’s make and strengthen partnerships- the public-private, different government sectors. Investing in prevention is one good move. If you are taking your child to a school where they do not get at least one hour of play daily, you are not helping. It is not enough to have written policies, or laws, rather their enactment, and that is everyone’s job. Programs at the worksite, in the learning institutions, need to be encouraged and supported.
The sports system also needs to be strengthened. We need to have a range of sports for women and men made available and accessible. How many counties have had community groups sports tournaments so far? These are some of the news that we would love to watch, and more commercial breaks that promote physical activity.
I dream of a day when all Kenyans living in the city can comfortably walk without worrying about an overlapping vehicle, a haunted street, or better yet, just a day when we will have more bicycles in the town centres than cars.