What are your new resolutions for this year? Do they include a health plan? In this column, I would wish to hint on something you should be thinking about doing—embarking on regular physical exercises.
Let’s begin by looking at this man and his lifestyle. He is Mr Sameer Kermalli, a member of the Dar es Salaam Active Cyclists.
He uses cycling as transport every single day. Recently he said to me,“I cycle for at least 10kms/day- whether it’s going to the city center or Tandika.”
He went on, “I save a lot of money from parking charges, fuel charges and car permits. Cycling has also helped me increase productivity by saving a lot of time that is normally wasted sitting in traffic jams.”
Mr Kermalli’s story is not unique. We’ve all heard it several times that exercise is good for your health, yet more than often, a number of people start exercising and don’t continue with the habit. The economic aspects have also been ignored.
This is mainly because a lot of people do exercise in order to lose weight. It’s important to understand that exercise is not only a weight- loss affair but it is meant to improve other body functions.
In fact, the more you continue to feeding on large quantities of starchy foods, you’ll not lose weight even if you walk for 30mins a day. So, diet plans and exercises go together.
Exercise has numerous benefits to the body apart from maintaining weight. Let’s look at it economically again. For an individual, exercise reduces the likelihood of non-communicable diseases which in turn drastically lowers medical costs for a person in their old age.
Exercising can also reduce your current expenses and give you a significant boost financially as seen in Mr Kermalli’s story.
Biologically, when someone exercises, neurotransmitters called endorphins are released, which causes someone to have a good feeling.
This causes reduction in stress and depression. Apart from this, exercises burn bad cholesterol and increases blood circulation in the body.
Numerous studies have shown that exercises can drastically reduce the likelihood of getting non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Statistics from the National Health Service in the United Kingdom shows that exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke by 35 per cent, diabetes by 50 per cent, breast cancer by 20 per cent, osteoarthritis by 83 per cent and depression by 30 per cent. Overall, it can lower the risk of early death by up to 30 per cent.
In a country like Tanzania, where about 20 per cent of the population die of non-communicable diseases, exercise is vital in prevention of the illnesses and eventual deaths.
A very wise step was taken by the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children recently by launching a campaign that raises awareness and educates the public on exercising and its benefits to one’s health.
Apart from the direct health benefits, it’s important to note that exercise has numerous social, emotional and economic benefits as well.
According to Dr. Daniel from the Arizona State University, regular exercise reduces both anxiety and depression. Whether you’re exercising outdoors or in gyms, you’ll always have the chance to meet people, make friends and network with likeminded people.
A very important benefit of exercise is the positive effect it has on one’s sexual health.
Exercise improves mood, increases energy and increases libido. Data from the Mayo Clinic shows that men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than men who don’t exercise.
Now that you’ve seen the benefits of exercising and are all ready to hit the road. It’s important to realise that there are mainly two types of exercises; aerobic exercises and anaerobic exercises.
Aerobic exercises that use up oxygen such as walking, swimming, cycling, running, rope skipping and intense dancing increases your endurance and cardiac health while anaerobic exercises such as weight lifting and sprinting helps you gain lean muscle mass.
It’s vital to include both aerobic and anaerobic exercises in your daily routine. The New Year has just begun and this is the right time for you to make a commitment towards exercise and better health.