Almost 50 percent of the women in the Kingdom above the age of 40 suffer from osteoporosis, a disease characterized by weak, porous bones that can be easily fractured. According to Dr. Tawfiq Idris Al-Bakri, a faculty member at the Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah, the main cause of osteoporosis is lack of physical exercise.
Various studies in the past have shown that lack of exercise or a sedentary lifestyle is the root cause of all major life-threatning diseases in the world. A study also estimates two million deaths per year worldwide are attributed to a sedentary lifestyle, Dr. Al-Bakri said.
Dr. Al-Bakri in his lecture at a conference on physical education at the conference hall in Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Olympic Complex in Riyadh, fervently stressed on the importance of regular exercise.
Dr. Al-Bakri explained that whether it is a competitive sport like basketball, football, tennis, etc. — or a recreational sport like aerobics, yoga or any physical game — it will have a direct positive impact on the physical body and its functions, stamina, mental and emotional state, energy levels, self-confidence, and even social status.
He further discussed all the common excuses that people hide behind for their sedentary lifestyles — not having enough time or having too much work, family responsibilities, the hot weather, lack of suitable places to workout — and every other lame reason stands in their way.
“Simply walking is easy, fun, and suitable for all people, and it is the only form of exercise that does not need any equipment, special gym instructors or team members. Anyone can walk; it is a low-impact type of aerobic exercise, gentle on the knee joints, and has virtually zero risk of injury,” Dr. Al-Bakri said during the conference.
Dr. Al-Bakri mentioned numerous health benefits of walking: Decreased blood cholesterol and blood pressure levels, protection against atherosclerosis and heart diseases, cancer prevention, weight loss, increasing strength and density of the bones, boosting metabolism. Walking is also therapeutic for diabetes, arthritis, joint, and back pain and useful in treating insomnia, promoting relaxation and a sense of well-being, giving the body strength and flexibility, and improving the functions of the respiratory and circulatory systems.
Dr. Al-Bakri recommends walking four days a week for 30 to 40 minutes at a fast pace. He advises wearing comfortable shoes and clothes, warming up for about five minutes before accelerating speed, and slowly jogging for five minutes before coming to an abrupt stop.
The best time to walk outside is early in the morning before 10 AM or just an hour before the sunset; avoid walking outside during the hot hours of the day or late at night on the streets when visibility for motorists is low, he said.
He also pointed out that slow walking or walking and stopping, like window shopping at the mall, does not count as an "aerobic exercise." Buying a treadmill is an excellent investment as it will benefit the whole family, Dr. Al-Bakri said. — SG