UGANDA COMMEMORATES SECOND NATIONAL DAY OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Kampala The President of Uganda, H E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni called upon Ugandans to regularly exercise and eat healthy saying that 'neglect is abuse of the body.' He made these remarks during the commemoration of the National Day of Physical Activity held under the theme My Health, My responsibility at Kololo Independence Grounds.

These diseases come because you have abused your body. These diseases need to be communicated and explained in the local languages, President Museveni added. He emphasized that doctors and medics must contextualize and simplify the phenomenon of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) to enable the public comprehend and act appropriately.

President Museveni cautioned the public against drug and alcohol abuse, saying it has consequences. I am 74 years old with no blood pressure or diabetes. From 100kg, I have been able to knock off 20kg because of my fitness activities.

Being fat is abnormal and suicidal. If you love eating too much, you should exercise to burn the extra fat accumulated. Storing fat in the body will cause you many diseases he said.

The Minister for Health, Hon. Dr Jane Ruth Aceng re-echoed that the commemoration of this day is symbolic for the importance of physical activity- however, regular exercise should be part and parcel of your daily routine.

3.2% of Ugandans have diabetes. Those with heart diseases are at 6%, 350 people out of every 100,000 have cancer while 8,000 new cases of cancer are recorded annually Aceng pointed out.

In order to prevent NCDs, Dr Aceng urged the population to engage in the physical activity in its various forms like dancing, cycling, jogging, brisk walking and digging.

World Health Organization (WHO) Country Representative, Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam noted that NCDs are a growing public health problem. To tackle them, looking into treatment won't be the solution, it's not financially sustainable. The best way is to prevent them he said.

Dr Yonas urged the public to change their lifestyles saying be moderate with alcohol, stop taking tobacco and decrease consumption of foods with high sugar. Physical activity will not only prevent NCDs but increase productivity he stressed.

Dr Yonas also applauded President Museveni for recognizing NCDs as a national priority. Uganda has set a very important and high standard globally by taking physical activity as a national event, he said.

Dr Bruce Kirenga, from the Lung Institute, said Physical activity reduces chronic disease by 42%. When you exercise, the lungs open up and take in more air.

Physical activity reduces the risk of inflammation and improves the body's immunity. It leads to a reduction in malignant (cancerous) cells Executive Director, Uganda Cancer Institute, Dr Jackson Orem said while explaining the relationship between physical activity and cancer.

Dr John Omagino Executive Director, Uganda Heart Institute (UHI), said life is structured like a pump. Life is like a pump. You must burn excess things in the body. 1 in every 4 Ugandans is overweight Dr Omagino said.

The good news, however, is that 85% of cardiovascular disease is prevented through physical exercise.

The president of Uganda Diabetes Association, Dr William Lumu, informed the public that the risk of diabetes reduces by 58% when one exercises. When you exercise, it burns the excess sugar. Exercise also unclogs fats around the blood vessels he explained.

The day kicked off with professional fitness trainers leading the crowds in warm up sessions followed by zumba and sukuma dances. This was aimed to prepare the body for vigorous exercise sessions that would follow later in the day.

President Museveni later led the crowds in a 5 km trek beginning from the commemoration venue, down to Lugogo Bypass, Jinja Road, to Airtel Roundabout and turned off at Wampewo Avenue before heading back to the venue.

Subsequently, President Museveni launched a book titled, Presidential Initiative on Healthy Eating and Healthy Lifestyle to inform the public of the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle.

The commemoration event was filled with fun and calorie burning activities suitable for all age groups. For example; children had a play area with a children bouncing castle and soccer, games such as football, volleyball and netball colored part of the event venue. Half of the venue was filled with participants dancing as a way to burn excess fat and keep fit while another section of the venue had scores of individuals turn up for the free NCD screening services provided.

Source: Ministry of Health

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