Physical activity, exercise and physical fitness are terms often used interchangeably, although their meaning is different from each other. Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure which can be measured in kilocalories. Physical activity in daily life can be categorized into occupational, sports, conditioning, household, or other activities. Exercise, however, is a subset of physical activity which is planned, structured, and repetitive with objectives to improve or maintain physical fitness. Whereas, physical fitness is a set of attributes that are either health- or skill-related and attributes of this can be measured with specific tests.[i]
On an individual basis, everyone makes efforts to exercise regularly; some of us wake up at dawn while others gain an extra mile at dusk. In present times of constantly evolving technology, given reduced movement and long working hours, it becomes imperative that we as a Jamat constantly encourage each other to indulge into more and more physical activity.
Regular exercise has been proven scientifically to have massive benefits on the body. Some medically proven benefits of regular physical activity are:
- up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
- up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
- up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
- up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
- a 30% lower risk of early death
- up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
- up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
- a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
- up to a 30% lower risk of depression
- up to a 30% lower risk of dementia
It is easier for younger members of the Jamat to perform a multitude of exercises which many of the older generation cannot easily achieve. A majority of the Mbeya Jamat in Southern Highlands of Tanzania, comprises of the older generation, many needing to use a chair for daily activities, due to age-related illnesses, posing a challenge in physical activity.
Considering the needs of the Jamat, WAP in collaboration with JHB, organized a day of exercise comprising of two sessions. First session involved all women of the Jamat to exercise while seated on chairs. Video of this session was streamed through YouTube and women of all ages were able to engage in these activities. The second session comprised of active younger women who were able to keep up with Jillian Michael’s training video also streamed from YouTube.
This program encouraged and provided women with tips on how to make exercise a daily routine, while seated on a chair. It also challenged younger women to push the limits of physical activity and keep up with a global physical trainer.
Similarly many such videos and concepts of physical fitness are available on the internet for access of the Jamat which include yoga, aerobics, body combat, Zumba and much more. Many concepts available are also age friendly, with full manuals available on how to exercise while seated:
[i] Caspersen, C. J., Powell, K. E., & Christenson, G. M. (1985). Physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness: definitions and distinctions for health-related research. Public Health Reports, 100(2), 126–131.