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Opinions of Monday, 10 September 2012

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Health: Ghana’s new era of gyms and keep fit clubs.

Source: Sydney Abugri Writing and Editing Services

Health experts are unanimous in their warning that whatever is not used atrophies or wastes away and dies slowly and that this is particularly the case with the human body.

“If you want to keep physically fit and healthy, regular exercise is the answer. This basic law of health if broken or violated, leads to sickness” emphasizes Dr. Edward Narh of the Narh-Bita Hospital in Tema.

Most members of keep fit clubs and patrons of gymnasiums confirm that they are usually clear-minded and alert after exercising. This, Dr. Narh explains, is because exercise makes the heart and brain work better as they receive adequate supplies of oxygen.

“Since joining a keep fit club, I eat better, sleep better and no longer suffer frequently from colds, fever and bodily pains as I used to”, concedes a female bank official in her fifties who belongs to a fitness club in Accra.

Unfortunately, informal surveys suggest that many Ghanaians in vocations and professions which do not require any physical have not engaged in physical exercise for many years.

As a result, according to the Ministry of Health, about 60 per cent of adult deaths in Ghana are attributable to heart-related and other non-communicable diseases resulting from sedentary life styles.

The good news is that a fitness craze appears to now be in vogue in many parts of Ghana and large numbers of people are joining keep fit clubs and enrolling with gymnasiums for regular exercise.

Two key problems have however also emerged: The first, Dr. Narh of the Narh-Bita Hospital in Tema says, is that “many people have jumped on the exercise bandwagon and are jogging, running and lifting weights all over the place but it should not be so, because this could lead to fatal consequences like injury, loss of consciousness and sudden death for people with medical conditions they are unaware of.”

The second, Dr. Narh says, is that many of the numerous keep fit clubs and gymnasiums are managed by fitness trainers, instructors and assistants who have had no professional training whatsoever as fitness trainers and instructors.

Yet maximum health and physical fitness are best obtained through exercises designed by physical training and fitness professionals and conducted under the supervision of qualified trainers who know the types of exercise suitable for people of different ages, and state of health.

The certified physical training professionals ensure that they take people through physical exercises that are beneficial, without putting too much physical strain on this category of people. They also teach how wellness maybe enhanced by complementing exercise with a healthy lifestyle.

“People with highly elevated blood pressure and diabetics of certain categories for example, need medical treatment before they begin physical exercise” Dr. Narh explains.

Part of the solution to the problem of untrained keep fit club and gymnasium instructors, Dr. Narh says, is for the clubs and gymnasiums to avail themselves of the services of the Narh-Bita School of Exercise Medicine, Sports and Wellness in Tema.

The Narh-Bita School of Exercise Medicine, Sports and Wellness, the only one of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa, is one of the departments of the Narh-Bita College of Nursing located close to the Narh-Bita Hospital at Tema Community Four.

The school which is headed by Professor Reginald Ocansey, has been resourced and well equipped to teach a wide range of courses related to the science of Exercise Medicine and its application to physical fitness and wellness activities. Its seminars and short-term certificated courses are designed to equip trainees with the skills to coach in schools, colleges, universities and clubs and to work as gymnasium and keep fit club instructors. Participants at the school’s seminars, workshops and short courses, are introduced to “Cardiothoracic Sports” which focuses on proper physical strength training and cardiovascular conditioning of the individual for safe and beneficial physical exercise.

In recent times, they have included sports club doctors, physiotherapists/masseurs, keep fit instructors, gymnasium supervisors, physical education/physical activity teachers, sports masters/mistresses, sports coaches and physical training instructors.

Aspiring and serving keep fit club, gymnasium and sports clubs instructors are trained in fitness programming, nutrition and wellness, kinetics, the science and prescription of physical exercise, first aid, the care and prevention of injuries.

Professor Reginald Ocansey, says the vision of the school is to spearhead the creation of a healthier national population for Ghana’s development through fitness training complemented by healthier lifestyles.

He says since a healthy working population will increase productivity at workplaces and contribute more meaningfully to national economic growth, corporate bodies also need to avail themselves of the school’s services in providing regular physical fitness programmes for their workers.

Professor Ocansey who is also the Founder and Coordinator of Ghana Physical Education and Sports Think Tank and the Active Lifestyle and Wellness Association of Ghana, can be reached on 0244217592.