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‘Fit India is timely, can stop disease tsunami’: WHO official on PM’s move

By enhancing individual health, physical activity helps lower healthcare costs. Its promotion – especially in culturally relevant and familiar forms – should be a core part of preventive health everywhere.

india Updated: Aug 29, 2019 12:40 IST
Sanchita Sharma
Sanchita Sharma
New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Fit India movement has come at the right time and is in sync with World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) recommended actions
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Fit India movement has come at the right time and is in sync with World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) recommended actions(HT Photo)
         

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Fit India movement has come at the right time and is in sync with World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) recommended actions, the global body’s regional director for South-East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh has said.

In an interview with Sanchita Sharma, Dr Singh talked about the benefits of staying active and fit.

Here are excerpts from the interview.

Watch: PM Modi launches ‘Fit India Movement’, says ‘it’s a step towards healthy India’

How will Fit India benefit public health?

The Fit India campaign is a commendable initiative to promote health and well-being. It’s scientifically established that regular and adequate physical activity improves muscular and cardiorespiratory fitness, helps control weight and the risk of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Physical activity also helps in preventing depression and promoting mental health – an increasingly prominent concern both globally and in the World Health Organization South East Asia Region (WHO-SEARO), of which India is a part.

By enhancing individual health, physical activity helps lower healthcare costs. Its promotion – especially in culturally relevant and familiar forms – should be a core part of preventive health everywhere.

NCDs kill an estimated 8.9 million people in the south East Asia Region every year, with around 4.4 million succumbing to them prematurely. Even a marginal increase in physical activity would alter these figures dramatically, saving individuals, communities and countries both emotional and financial pain.

Are children active enough?

Children aged 5-17 years require at least 60 minutes of moderate-vigorous activity daily, while adults require at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity weekly. However, at present, an estimated 70% of boys and 80% of girls in SEARO report insufficient physical activity. Nearly one-third of adults do the same.

Are there best practices to promote physical activities from India’s neighbours?

Countries in WHO South-East Asia Region are promoting physical activity through Multisectoral National Action Plans to Prevent and Control Noncommunicable Diseases. Physical activity is being promoted in schools, workplaces and in communities, with people being encouraged to walk regularly and use open gyms.

Thailand has been organising exercises for civil servants every Wednesday afternoon. In Timor-Leste, mass physical activity events called ‘Be Active’ and ‘Walk the Talk’ are organized every Saturday. India has been holding mass yoga events.

What is WHO’s role in promoting physical activity?

WHO’s global ACTIVE toolkit launched last year is helping countries fast-track progress in achieving the global target of reducing physical inactivity by 10% by 2025 and 15% by 2030. The toolkit has four major components - all countries should aim to create active societies; all countries should work to establish active environments; policymakers should do their utmost to inspire active people, and all countries should strive to develop active systems.

India’s latest initiative is in sync with WHO recommended actions, and very timely to address the NCD tsunami threatening the world.

First Published: Aug 29, 2019 11:39 IST

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