|24 January, 2020

Saudi health Ministry launches 8,000 steps campaign

Aims to improve public health, boost life expectancy

Arab men in religious dress. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Arab men in religious dress. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Getty Images

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Health has launched a national walking campaign to promote exercise in the Kingdom.

The campaign, #walk30, will last for four months and is in its first stage.

The ministry’s director general of marketing and awareness, Anas Al-Hamid, said that many schools and universities were taking part in the campaign, and that there was an app to calculate the number of steps taken. There will also be an event in all Saudi regions to coincide with National Day for Walking, scheduled for March 5, he added.

A walking challenge was one of the campaign’s many activities, he said, with participants trying to walk no fewer than 8,000 steps. Winners would be rewarded at the end of the competition and those interested were encouraged to download the app and register. 

Certified personal trainer Atif Adnan Bashawri, who owns a fitness studio, told Arab News: “I deal with people on a daily basis and the most common question is ‘How can I increase my fitness level?’ One of the best pieces of advice I always give my clients is to walk for at least 25 to 30 minutes three times a week.”

FAST FACTS

  • The walking campaign is part of the ministry’s goals to achieve targets in the Vision 2030 reform plan aimed at improving public health and boosting life expectancy from 74 to 80 years.
  • The reform plan also seeks to increase the number of people exercising at least once a week from 13 percent of the population to 40 percent.

“Walking for only 30 minutes every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance. It can also reduce your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers. Also it is the easiest way to relieve stress.”

Bashawri thanked the ministry for paying attention to such an important matter, remarking that obesity was increasing among adults and children.

In its 2018 report about people who work out and exercise, the General Authority for Statistics revealed that 54.05 percent of people in the Kingdom walked and 21.49 percent used apps while exercising. The report also showed that 18.99 percent of Saudis aged 15 and above practiced sports while 13.88 percent of non-Saudis exercised.

Last April a health official in the Kingdom, Abdulrahman Al-Sheikh, said that 40 percent of Saudis were obese. 

Al-Sheikh, who is a diabetes and endocrinology consultant and chairman of the Saudi Society for Diabetes, told Arab News that there were 3.8 million diabetics in the country, representing almost 19 percent of the adult population, and that obesity was a major issue in Saudi society.

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