With the Olympic Games just around the corner, sports are once again at the center-stage of discussion forums. A paper published in The Lancet reiterates that participating in regular sport contributes to the health of an individual and thereby the whole nation.
Sport is a type of exercise where participants follow a set of rules and aim to achieve a defined goal.
AdvertisementRegular physical activity in any form improves the health of an individual. Studies have shown that regular sport of moderate-to-high intensity is associated with reduced mortality rates. It not only reduces the incidence of diseases like diabetes, heart disease and obesity, but group sports like football also improve social interactions.
With many jobs becoming sedentary, indulgence in exercise and sport has become more necessary to improve overall health. Data from Europe indicates that the occurrence of regular sporting activity of once a week or more is less than 40%. Participation in sports is more common in the younger age groups. However, it is important to assess whether the current participation in sports is enough to add to the health benefits of a nation. The extent and regularity of participation should be kept in mind while making such an assessment.
Sports can also be used to bring about health benefits through indirect means. For example, health information can be disseminated through campaigns that feature sports celebrities. One such campaign called '11 for Health' has been taken up by FIFA to promote health. The program links 11 health messages to 11 well-known football players and has been adopted by many countries across the globe.
Sports do carry the risk of injury. Injury is more common with high-intensity sports commonly seen in competitive arenas. However, a well-planned warm up and training session could help to reduce the chances of injury in sports personnel.
Encouragement and interventions from physicians to follow more sports help to increase physical activity and improve the health of the individual. Patients should be asked to report their average physical activity levels per day during their visits to their doctors. This could alert physicians about possible inactivity, who could in turn advise the patients on the health benefits of physical activity. Nurses, physiotherapists and dieticians could also contribute by encouraging patients to follow regular physical activity.
Physical activity is the answer to the many illnesses associated with our sedentary lives. Countries should make active efforts to introduce sports and other physical activities to individuals to ensure a healthy nation.
1. Sport and exercise as contributors to the health of nations; Karim Khan et al; The Lancet Volume 380 Issue 9836, July 2012
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