The Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) says there is urgent need for governments and stakeholders to develop policies for physical activities and exercises to reduce risks of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) especially heart diseases in the country.
Dr Kingsley Akinroye, the Executive Director of NHF, made the call while speaking with newsmen in Lagos at an event to mark the 2021 commemoration of the World Physical Activity Day (WOPAD) in Nigeria.
“Physical inactivity is a major risks factor for many non-communicable disease. They are highest killers in Nigeria today and in the black world. They are, however, preventable.
“We need to address physical inactivity.
“Our governments have not recognised physical activities as a core area to look into in reducing many unnecessary deaths.
“The playing grounds have gone. Why don’t we have gyms and wellness centres? Most schools and shopping malls in those days have playing fields for physical activities but now they are all gone.
“We are here to tell Nigerians that the more they sit the more the risks for non communicable diseases,” he added.
According it him, the foundation has collaborated with gyms and wellness centres in six states of the federation and Abuja .
The aim is for people to go and do exercise at the places at no cost for one week.
This, he said, is part of NHF’s activities to mark the 2021 WOPAD commemorated annually on April 6 globally.
Akinroye emphasised the need for Nigeria to put policies in place to ensure school children inculcate the habit of engaging in physical activities.
According to him, this will make them to be at par and favourably compete with other children outside the country.
In her address, Mrs Pamela Umebuani, Chairman, Planning Committee on 2021 World Physical Activity Day, NHF, decried the high rate of obesity among children and youth in the nation.
Umebuani said: “Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for various non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and cancer.
“The Nigerian Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth 2013 to 2018 (Nigerian Heart Foundation) recorded that urban resident Nigerian children and youth are more overweight and obese than their rural counterpart.
“This is related to what the Nutritional Transition Developing Countries are experiencing, characterised by a shift from traditional types of diet to more westernised diet.
“Westernised diet like high fat, high sugar, low-fibre, and less involvement in active transportation and physical activity and increase in sedentary activity.
“The World Health Organisation(WHO) , governments, NGOs, health and education authorities as well as sports organisations should develop policies for physical activity that is supportive in reduction of obesity,’’ she said.
According to her, the WHO recommends that to prevent cardiovascular disease, one should engage in moderate exercise for 30 minutes, five times a week, to reach at least 150 minutes per week of exercise.
Alternatively, vigorous activity for 25 minutes, 3 times a week to reach at least 75 minutes per week.
She said that the benefits of regular exercise on cardiovascular risk factors include increase in exercise tolerance, reduction in body weight, reduction in blood pressure.
Also, regular exercise helps in reducing bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol as well as increasing good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and insulin sensitivity
Umebuani added that reports established that physical inactivity is associated with increased risks of stroke, heart failure and cancer.
According to her, physical activity may reduce the risk of CVD, through preventing obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia and diabetes mellites.
She explained that individuals could enjoy lower blood pressure, improved blood flow, lower cholesterol, decreased risk of heart diseases and diabetes and improved workout efficacy through regular exercises.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that some of the gyms and wellness centres collaborating with the NHF include Paslim Gym and Wellness Centre, Ikeja; I Fitness Gym, Lekki; Planet Riders Gym, Ikeja; I Am Fit Gym, Magodo and Aja;, JB Ex Trim Gym, Festac and Fitness Options Gym, Surulere in Lagos.