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Health promotion in physical activity

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The urban planning and environment sector can begin by renovating the neighbourhoods to make them more appealing thus facilitating walking and cycling. Urban sprawl and other similar designs should be discouraged (Ewing, Shmid, Killingsworth, Zlot & Raudenbush 2003:56) and the community urged to participate in urban planning and policing to create safer neighbourhoods. The workplaces can promote physical activity in their employees through various ways, for example, supporting gym memberships, agreeing on a physical activity plan with the employees and fostering of a physically active organizational culture by employers. Preventing sedentary lifestyles Even though they play a prime role in promoting a physically active life it should not be the sole responsibility of local governments and other relevant sectors.

It all adds up to the willingness of the individual to maintain an active lifestyle. The person should make sure that they incorporate as much physical activity as possible in their daily lives. The daily physical activity recommendation for an adult according to the WHO is at least thirty minutes of moderate to intense physical activity most, if not all, days in the week for adults (Pate et al.

1995:402) and one hour of moderate to intense exercise for five or more days weekly for children and youth (Strong et al. 2005:732). These durations can be split into shorter periods of not less than 10 minutes each. Achieving the required time for physical exercise is easy without necessarily enrolling in the gym. There are many ways in which one can include physical activity in their daily routine, for instance, walking or cycling instead of driving to work, taking the stairs instead of elevators, parking the car at a distance from the workplace and taking lunchtime walks just to mention a few. Research also shows that having a pet can help one increase their daily physical activity levels.

Dog owners were found to exercise more than non-dog owners since they take time to walk their dogs and play with them in the parks and around the neighbourhood (Brown & Rhodes 2006:131). Having a dog for company during walks is a good idea, and it can also increase one’s level of exercise when playing with them (Foster & Hillsdon 2004: 755-769). The local government can also make it easier for residents to engage in physical activities during their leisure time, especially those that cannot afford to pay for expensive gym sessions or sports.

In Kardikoy, Turkey, for instance, the local government has set up walkways and exercise equipment in public parks for people to use in the open air; especially those who cannot afford to pay for gym membership or don’t have the time (Edwards & Tsouros 2006:14).

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