MANILA, Philippines – With six out of 10 adults in the country considered physically inactive, a global non-profit organization urged Filipinos on Saturday to exercise at least two-and-a-half hours a week to improve their physical fitness.
Exercise is Medicine (EIM), which campaigns for including physical activity as part of disease prevention and medical treatment, said exercising regularly can reduce the risk of early death by 40 percent, recurrent breast cancer by 50 percent, having stroke by 27 percent, and developing Alzheimer’s disease by 40 percent.
“One hundred and fifty minutes per week of moderate physical activity can have a huge impact on one’s quality of life,” said EIM Philippines in a statement.
“At the correct intensity and duration, exercise not only improves the quality of life but decreases the incidence of disease, chronic health conditions and obesity also,” it added.
The group said it was organized here in the Philippines due to the increasing number of deaths caused by non-communicable diseases (NCD) like cancer and diabetes.
“Majority of these NCDs are linked by common preventable risk factors which include tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, alcohol use, and physical inactivity,” EIM Philippines said.
It noted that the World Health Organization estimated that 6 out of 10 Filipinos were physically inactive while the prevalence of physical inactivity among children is also high.
“EIM Philippines targets to contribute to the (Department of Health) goal of decreasing the rate of physical inactivity from 60.5 percent (2008) to 50.8 percent in 2016 through training doctors nationwide to prescribe exercise as part of medicine,” the press statement said.
American doctor Maxime Buyckx, director for health and well programs, global scientific and regulatory affairs at The Coca-Cola Company, said those who live sedentary lives need not immediately run in a marathon. Coca-Cola funds EIM as part of promoting healthy active living.
“Normally, people should exercise 150 minutes in a week, which is five times 30 minutes. That is a very good start of regular exercise. If you feel you can do more intense exercises, or if you feel you can double that amount of time, you also get special benefits,” Buyckx said.
“What is very important here is to understand that if people go walk for 15 minutes, that’s already a very good achievement [for starters]. It’s not about setting [high] expectation [immediately] like you want to go run a marathon. So that is the message. Get easily active, find friends, and enjoy,” he added.
Buyckx said that fitness buffs should not overly focus on losing weight since there are other fitness parameters to consider like flexibility and muscle tone.
“There is sometimes a lot of focus on this issue of weight—that if you are physically active and fit, you should be skinny or you should lose weight and everything,” Buyckx said. “The science really around fitness says even the overweight, if they are fit (or) if the parameters of fitness are good, they may be even better off than people who are skinny,” he said.