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Feature Article of Friday, 20 August 2010

Columnist: Buachi, Bernard

Ghanaians and Exercise Culture

Pot bellies, obesity, hypertension, high blood pressure, joint problems and many lifestyles related diseases are rife among both men and women in Ghana. Some see these as signs of “the good life”, signs of prosperity.
Very often, in Ghana, when a spouse begins to put on weight, people refer to it as a foreign; a sign that the other spouse is taking very good care of him/her. The Akans will say, “wo kunu hwe wo yie paa o” which is to mean, your husband takes very good care of you or “wo yere bo wo nkwan pa”, meaning your wife feeds you well.
Many people also live sedentary lifestyles, spending most of their day in an office, a car, before a computer or some gadget. In the face of the kind of lifestyle we assume these days, one question keeps coming up: how well are Ghanaians keep up with an exercise culture?
When a country like China or other Asian countries is shot on television or in a film, we see citizens, male and female, young and old rising early and engaging in various forms of physical exercises such as taichi, kung fu, Muay tai and the likes. We like and admire them.
Almost everybody knows that life expectancy in countries like Japan, China, and Korea are high owing largely to their good dietary habits and their exercise culture. What is it that keeps us back as Ghanaians, from emulating what is good?
It is interesting and should have been gratifying to observe the many keep fit clubs springing up in nooks and crannies within the country but for the motives behind the formation of such clubs. Many of these also do certain things that are rather counterproductive. It is for example not strange to find a group after having exercise once a week, on a weekend, drinking exorbitant amounts of beer and other alcoholic beverages. As if that were not enough, they gather at eateries and eat large quantities of fat and meat laddened “omutuo, fufu or banku”.
This feature is not aimed at discovering patrons of keep fit clubs. On the contrary, it is an advocate for keep fit and other healthy habits.
However, it is important that the right motives go into the formation of keep fit clubs and often similar groups.
An investigation by focus news indicates that many people, usually men, pursue the idea of a keep fit club as a means of luring the opposite sex for sexual gratification.
People hit the gym to either deep fit, or develop well defined muscles; what we call “macho”. Often people would not go to the gym because they believe the gym makes them buffed and kind of “macho”. Are there ways to train without necessary piling up muscle?
How do you train if you want to actually pile up muscle?
Most often, we learn about the problems or disadvantages of not exercising, are there evils of exercising we generally do not know about?

-Bernard Buachi,
Focus fm,Kumasi.

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