Ministry Of Health Launches National Day Physical Activity

As a chilly Sunday morning dawned in Kampala Capital City, Ugandans started to flock the Kololo Independence Grounds as early as 6:00AM to join the Ministry of Health in launching the National Day of Physical Activity, for the first time ever – as part of a campaign to raise awareness on the growing burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Uganda.

Individuals from all walks of life, ages and physical ability; from 5 years to 70 years old, from the disabled to the abled, men in uniform, Cabinet Ministers, Permanent Secretaries of various Ministries and heads of Development Agencies flooded the venue to stretch, dance, exercise, jog, play games such as football, netball, basketball and other activities in a bid to beat NCDs.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), NCDs, also known as chronic diseases or lifestyle diseases, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behavioral factors. Examples of NCDs include; Cancer, Cardiovascular diseases, Diabetes, Obesity and Hypertension.

While launching the National Day of Physical Activity, the President of Uganda, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni noted that as Uganda benefited from development, Ugandans started suffering from lifestyle diseases. “One simply has to change lifestyles, exercise and eat well. The increase in cases of cancer, diabetes, heart diseases especially in urban areas is because people eat too much and do not exercise” he said.

Results from the Uganda NCD risk factor survey (2014) showed that Ugandans are becoming increasingly physically inactive. High physical inactivity was noted especially among the urban population where 8% of adults were considered physically inactive compared to 3.5% among the rural population. People in villages engage in more ‘calorie-burning’ activities such as farming and gardening which counts as physical activity compared to urban dwellers.

The survey further indicated that adults aged between 50-69 years are more physically inactive (7.8%) compared to the younger age groups i.e. 18-29 years (4.1%) and 30-49 years (3.2%). Females are also less active as compared to their male counterparts (women 4.9%, men 3.7%).

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