Off the car, on your feet to keep fit

MUSCAT, Feb 17 – Maitham Eisa al Turki is on a tricycle ride across the GCC. His mission: spreading the message of staying healthy by “choosing the hard path” and bidding adieu to gizmos.
This 25-year-old mechanical engineer faced rough weather conditions, including sandstorms and freezing cold, during the course of his more than 1,000-km ride from the Al Hassa Province of Saudi Arabia, where he began his travel quest.
It took him a day and a half to reach Salalah in Dhofar Governorate, where he hails from.
Speaking to the Observer in Muscat, where he arrived on Tuesday last, Al Turki’s message was clear: “Come out of the comfort zones of your homes or the cozy cars that you spend your lives in.”
He wants people to take a few steps by going to the supermarket or heading to their neighbourhood. “Rely on the feet,” he stresses.
“Trust me, that’s the only way to keep fit and keep all lifestyle diseases at bay,” says Al Turki, an advocate of healthy living in the community.
According to him, GCC is highly prone to diseases, thanks to the wrong eating habits, over-dependence on technology and sedentary lifestyle.
“It’s never too late to take the hard path to lead a healthy life. Unfriend your cars, determine that you are going to take a few steps more from today and increase the number of steps you take every day,” he said.
Al Turki also has a piece of advice for those with armchair jobs. “Take a break from work and walk for a few minutes. And drink plenty of water and shun fast food.”
He will next head to Sharjah in the UAE, followed by Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain in the coming days. Throughout the route, Al Turki will be advocating his health mantra.
Lifestyle-related diseases in the GCC, especially among women, has reached alarming levels, according to reports.
In the GCC, the most risk factors for cardiovascular diseases are obesity, physical inactivity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and hypertension.
The rate of obesity among women in the region ranges from 29 per cent to 45.7 per cent, one of the highest globally. This high rate has been attributed to physical inactivity.

KABEER YOUSUF