15 – 19 October 2019 – National Obesity Week
The 15th to the 19th of October is National Obesity Week and is marked on our calendar so that we can increase awareness around the topic. Obesity is considered excessive body fat, but it also increases the risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer.
Obesity is measured using a person’s body mass index (BMI).
- You are overweight if you have a BMI of 25 or above, but lower than 30
- You are considered obese if you have a BMI of 30 or higher
According to a healthy living survey conducted by The Healthy Living Alliance, South Africa is seriously affected by obesity:
- Our country has the highest rate of obesity in Sub-Saharan Africa
- 68% of women over the age of 15 years old are overweight or obese
- 31% of men are overweight or obese
Not only can obesity lead to greater risk of chronic diseases, but it also makes everyday life a lot more difficult to live. Many obese people suffer from mental illness such as depression, and often have very low self-esteem.
Obesity can be overcome, and it doesn’t have to be a permanent affliction. Using regular exercise and healthy eating, people suffering from obesity can start to lose weight progressively, but it requires a lot of determination.
How Exercise Helps Counteract Obesity
Weight loss is the end goal for an obese person wanting to improve their health. Any weight loss programme includes regular exercise that must become habitual. The benefits of exercise for an obese person are vast and include:
- Burning calories, which improves your metabolic rate (this is the number of calories you burn in a 24-hour period)
- A faster metabolism will help with weight loss
- Continued exercise enhances muscle tone
- Improves circulation and functioning of the organs
- Improves the functioning of the cardiovascular system
- Helps alleviate stress
- Helps aid concentration and helps balance sleep patterns
- Improves feelings of self-worth and self-esteem, thus reducing depressive thoughts and behaviour
- Reduces risk for chronic diseases
What Exercise To Do To Overcome Obesity
Global recommendations state that in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to exercise regularly and to try and increase the levels of physical activity in your day. The following should be used as a guide as to the minimum physical activity required for healthy living:
- A person should do at least 150
minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week. This
includes brisk walking, gardening, dancing, slow cycling, sports and games that
aren’t too strenuous.
- This can be broken down into 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five times a week
- Or it can even be performed in 10-minute bouts of aerobic activity completed three times a day, five times a week
- Alternatively, a person should do at
least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity in a week. This
includes running, swimming, fast cycling, competitive sports.
- This could be broken down into five 15-minute sessions per week
- Or three 25-minute sessions, however you can fit it into your lifestyle
Adding physical activity to your day helps keep you energised throughout the day. Make small changes such as the following: take the stairs instead of the lift, walk at lunchtime, get up from your desk every 30 minutes to walk around the office, park your car further away from the shops and walk the rest of the way. Finding ways to include physical activity in your lifestyle makes it much easier and more enjoyable to carry out. Here are some ideas how you can incorporate it:
- Start hiking on weekends in locations all over our beautiful country
- Start an action netball, soccer or cricket team with your friends
- Create a gym group and commit to certain classes or times together per week. The social activity helps make it more interesting
- Buy a bicycle and start exploring the streets or trails around your city
- Put a treadmill or stationary bike in front of your TV and commit to staying on it and exercising while you watch your favourite series
If you are currently diagnosed with chronic illness or have an injury, please consult a healthcare practitioner before engaging in high intensity activities.