Physical Activity: Time to Reconsider
Few days ago, I was reading an article about physical inactivity and its association with non-communicable diseases (NCD) e.g. hypertension, diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer etc. Later a thought popped up in my mind regarding our approach towards physical activity in our daily lives.
The importance of physical activity had been expressed by the scholars of ancient times. Hippocrates, Plato- they all emphasized on physical activity as a tool of physical and mental wellbeing. “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and prevent it”- Plato said years ago. However the association between physical inactivity and disease causation was found out much later. Estimates show that 6-10% of major non-communicable diseases are due to physical inactivity. The scenario is as grim as that of smoking or obesity as a risk factor of NCD.
People’s perceptions about physical activity are varying. I have asked my seniors, peers, colleagues about their outlook towards physical exercise. Many of them tell me that they don’t have diabetes or high blood pressure, that’s why they don’t need physical exercise currently. On the other side, some people say that they don’t have enough time and instruments (e.g. treadmill, dumbbell etc) in their house to do physical exercise.
The purpose of physical activity is to keep the body fit. It brings a complete sense of well-being and harmony between body, mind and environment. The aforementioned lines of thought about physical exercise are completely deviant from the correct idea. Physical exercise does not necessarily mean running on the treadmill with earphones plugged in, while admiring your reflection in the mirror. Besides, it is not only for the elderly or diabetics following a strict diet and lots of prescription.
We have to rethink and redefine our ideas about physical exercise to make it a part of our everyday lives. It’s now a social and cultural challenge; not simply a public health issue. It should be discussed everywhere – the health benefits of physical exercise should also be disseminated to the masses in general through the national newspapers, women’s magazines, TV programs and radio.
People should be encouraged to consider physical exercise as an integral part of their daily activities. It should be viewed as an agent of active and healthier life; not a remedy for NCD as it has strong evidence to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with NCD. Moreover, physical exercise increases life expectancy, reduces incidence of stroke, diabetes, breast cancer, colon cancer, depression, cardiovascular disease and many more.
In a nutshell, we have to reconsider the importance we lay upon physical exercise and try to make it a habit rather than a prescribed schedule by the physician. Social and cultural awareness and motivation will play a vital role in promoting physical activity in society.
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