Sept 2008

Advice: Exercise to stay healthy and productive

Exercising has many health benefits. It keeps you fit and healthy and reduces the chances of developing heart diseases, cancer and diabetes by up to 50 per cent. All of these are major causes of death in South Africa. 
Regular exercise also helps to:
  • prevent high blood pressure, hip fractures and lower back pain
  • promote psychological wellbeing by reducing stress, anxiety and depression,
  • control weight
  • build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, joints and stamina.

More Productive

Healthy habits like regular exercise are not only good for people, but also for the country. It benefits the country's economy by reducing the amount of money that government spends on health services. The economy further benefits because healthy people are more productive and less likely to be absent from work. 
Walk, dance or play
You don't have to go to a gym to exercise. It is something you can do at home as a fun activity for the whole family. You can also get your friends to join in. Exercises to do together include walking, running, riding bicycles, swimming, skipping, playing games like soccer, and even dancing. But to benefit from any exercise you have to do it regularly. For example, walking for half-an hour five days a week will have major health benefits. 
Exercise programme
Exercising is not difficult, but many people find it hard to start an exercising programme and to stick to it. If you are not an active person, you should start slowly with easy exercises for short periods. Then slowly start to do more difficult exercises for longer periods. The trick is to listen to your body. If you have pain, start feeling dizzy, or get very tired, it means you are doing too much too soon. It is a sign that you should reduce your exercising to a level that feels comfortable for you. 
If you enjoy walking and you become comfortable with the distance you walk every day, you can start walking faster for longer distances. In this way you will really benefit from the exercise. This applies to any type of exercise that you choose. Remember to choose exercises that you enjoy. Make it a fun activity to look forward to instead of something that feels like hard work. 
- Muzi Mkhwanazi
The Department of Health will advise you.


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