Fight obesity in South Africa a step at a time

 

The impact of obesity on individual health, globally, is significant. Good nutrition and regular physical activity are simple but immensely effective lifestyle changes that will set you on a road towards better health.

Did you know that 4.5 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese? This is more than the worldwide deaths linked to being underweight. There are a number of health concerns linked to obesity, including:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke)
  • Certain cancers (breast and colon)
  • Reproductive health issues (infertility and higher risk of miscarriage)
  • Increased strain on bones, muscles and joints
  • Emotional distress and depression
  • Low quality of life
  • Respiratory problems (sleep apnoea and asthma)

How much obesity is costing the country

In addition to health concerns, obesity impacts the global economy. A whopping R16.4 trillion is lost each year - roughly equivalent to the global impact from smoking or armed violence, war and terrorism. According to the Discovery Vitality ObeCity Index 2017, the economic impact of obesity in South Africa is R701 billion each year.

Costs to the economy linked to obesity include:

  • Decreased productivity - costing South Africa around R109 billion each year
  • Increased absenteeism - costing South Africa around R47 billion each year
  • Increased medical spend - out-of-pocket healthcare costs of R124 billion each year globally
  • Slowed career growth - globally, overweight women are predicted to earn 11% less than women of healthy weight

Everyday expenses - costing an extra R31 billion globally linked to fuel, electricity and other expenses by obese

While there is no doubt that obesity is one of the biggest drivers of preventable chronic diseases and healthcare costs, a few simple changes in your lifestyle can make a world of difference. And the first step can literally be - a step!

Walk your way to better health

If you'd like to become more fit and active, but don't know where to start - a walk is a great first step. Here are some ways you can ease your way into a habit of regular physical activity.

Take advantage of everyday opportunities to move more

Be it parking at the end of a lot so you walk a bit further to the shop entrance; taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator; using a bathroom at work located on another floor so you walk further to it; or even doing more ordinary household chores like sweeping or mowing the lawn; whatever tasks you complete in a day, make a point of incorporating more movement into your day.

Start slow and up your steps over time

In addition to health concerns, obesity impacts the global economy. A whopping R16.4 trillion is lost each year - roughly equivalent to the global impact from smoking or armed violence, war and terrorism. According to the Discovery Vitality ObeCity Index 2017, the economic impact of obesity in South Africa is R701 billion each year.

Walk or jog with a group

Joining (or starting) a walking group can be really fun and help keep you accountable. Training together taps into both our human desire for approval, and our capacity to influence others, states behavioural research. A group can help to take your mind off the pace, the inclines, and the distance - and by doing so, challenge you to walk or jog better, faster, and stronger.

Sign up for an event

Having an achievable (but still challenging) goal can give you the drive and focus you need to stick to a habit. Enter a race or event that will happen in the middle or end of winter to motivate you to keep up your physical activity. Need inspiration? Try out the Discovery East Coast Radio Big Walk in Durban this May and don't forget weekly parkruns to keep the family in practice!

 

Looking for ways to get healthier and fitter this winter? Here are four:

  1. Join a weekly parkrun near you for free, timed 5km runs. As a Vitality member, you can earn 300 Vitality points for completing a parkrun event. All you need to do is register a profile on www.parkrun.co.za.
  2. The Team Vitality running club supports runners of all levels in a range of events. Enjoy up to 50% cash back on selected race entries, free, quality kit and hospitality after selected races, plus earn up to 5 000 Vitality points events you complete.
  3. Activate Vitality Active Rewards - it's free and you'll earn rewards like smoothies and raw juices from KAUAI, coffee from Mugg & Bean and vida e caffè, and popcorn from Ster-Kinekor for achieving your fitness goals every week.
  4. Do a Vitality Fitness Assessment to give you an understanding of your fitness level, and get tips for how to improve it. Plus you can earn 2 500 Vitality points for doing the assessment, and up to 5 000 additional points depending on how fit you are.

Become a winner by getting fitter: join Vitality today!

Run your way to new running shoes with Vitality Active Rewards Shoe Booster

Earn up to 100% cash back on a pair of running shoes with Vitality Active Rewards Shoe Booster and your preferred HealthyGear partner, Sportsmans Warehouse or Totalsports.

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