How much time do you spend outdoors walking, cycling, running or consciously exercising?
Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, accounting for over 3 million preventable deaths worldwide.It has also been linked to anxiety and depression and is an independent risk factor for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes, which, given their chronic nature and high cost of care, not only have a negative impact on health, but also have a major economic impact on households, communities, and nations.
According to The World Health Organization (WHO) physical activity is all movements including those undertaken during leisure time, transport or as a part of a person’s work. The recommended intensity and frequency of physical activity varies with age and health status with over 25% of adults globally not meeting the minimum recommendations.
The extensive urbanization and globalization have led to a rise in sedentary lifestyles across the world owing to the lack of spaces for physical exercise and increased office working hours coupled with the high penetration of television, mobile and video devices. The extent of sedentary lifestyles varies in countries depending on the presence of enabling policies and supporting infrastructure like cycling and walking lanes. The WHO STEPwise approach to Surveillance (STEPS) survey carried out in Kenya in 2015 for instance, showed that Kenya has a slightly higher prevalence of physical inactivity compared to neighboring countries with an estimated 81% of adolescents and 27.5% of adults not getting the recommended amount of physical activity.
In its efforts to promote health activity in Kenya by leveraging its expertise in health IT systems, IntelliSOFT Consulting Ltd. has partnered with NextGen on a pro bono project to develop an application that allows data sharing between NextGen’s branches which include a gym, clinic and a sports academy. IntelliSOFT has built, adapted, and is implementing eHospital for the management of NextGen’s clinic, gym, and Academy Sports Center to facilitate health data sharing across all the clinical programs.
Additionally, IntelliSOFT is creating a mobile health and wellness application to assist NextGen’s customers in tracking their physical activity, diet, sleep, medicine schedule, mental health, and general wellness. The solution is anticipated to optimize the management of chronic illnesses, physiotherapy, pain management, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, and mental wellness.
Extensive studies show that physical activity is one of the most effective ways to promote, improve, restore and maintain health. Clinical recommendations have been made to include physical activity in the management plan for several conditions including diabetes, obesity, hypertension, depression, anxiety, cancer as well for cognitive impairments.
According to WHO, if governments don’t act quickly to promote more physical activity among their populations, about 500 million people may suffer heart disease, obesity, diabetes, or other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) between 2020 and 2030, costing US$ 27 billion yearly. The WHO’s Global Action Plan on Physical Activity calls for the adoption of evidence-based, successful policies to promote physical activity in all nations. The Plan includes recommendations on how countries can promote physical activity in their communities, schools, workplaces and homes. It also calls for governments to adopt policies that support physical activity in transport systems, the workplace and public places.
In Kenya, the National Strategy for the Prevention and Control of NCDs for 2015–2020 promotes physical activity as one of the interventions to prevent and control NCDs. The strategy is supported by a National Action Plan on NCDs for 2015–2020, which includes a focus on physical activity and sport. The strategy aims to increase physical activity among adults, children and adolescents. To realize this goal, stakeholders in both the public and private sector need to work together to accelerate efforts to curb physical inactivity.