Walking is perhaps the simplest of all exercises which offers dividends disproportionate to the efforts. According to health experts, a simple walking of even 30 minutes can offer an effective counter to most of the life-threatening non-communicable diseases — heart problems, cancer, diabetics and obesity among others.
The WHO’s Progress Monitor 2017 for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD), states that ‘premature death from NCDs continues to be one of the major development challenges in the 21st century. NCDs kill 15 million women and men aged between 30 and 70 each year, and leave no country untouched.’
For Oman, the report says that 70 per cent of the deaths are from NCDs and 18 per cent of the population is at risk of premature deaths from target NCDs. The report says that in Oman there should be more emphasis on mass
media campaigns to reduce the use of tobacco.
Similarly, stringent measures have been urged to curb marketing of unhealthy diet restrictions for children. The report has praised the Sultanate’s public awareness campaign on physical activity.
Apart from a routine exercise, walking can be incorporated in the daily routine by walking to a neighbourhood shop instead of driving, taking steps instead of lifts if not in a hurry to report to work or a meeting.
According to regular walking enthusiasts in Muscat, “The capital offers good facilities for walking and jogging. There is a good network of sidewalks and parks with good jogging facilities. So people have to just find time for walking every day irrespective of their busy work schedules.”
“The summer conditions come with some challenge especially in the evenings, but people can opt for morning timings before the sun gets brighter and hotter,” said Radhakrishnan Nair, who has been walking regularly over the past ten years.
“I am not sure about the tangible benefits offered by walking and regular exercise because a lot depend on factors such as stress, diet and ability to stay positive,” he said.
The positive side is that a number of youngsters walk in the early morning with or without medical reasons to do so. “You will find so many young men walking in the Muttrah sea front before they report to work. This is a good sign for a future Oman,” said Haitham al Balushi, a student at a private college.
According to Dr Ali, a government physician at one of the clinics in Muscat, “Health issues due to lifestyle are inevitable but what is important that regular sports and physical activities give you confidence to face any health challenges that may crop up in the future.”