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Be healthy, be happy

Dhanusha Gokulan / 31 January 2013

Fifty-three-year old Brazilian national Joao Theoto, is unlike any ordinary tourist in Dubai. He made his first visit to the city with the sole intention of partaking in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon 2013 which took place on January 25.

After facing a series of health complications, Theoto began running seven years ago. He hasn’t stopped since. He travels twice a year to participate in marathons organised in different cities across the world.

“After Dubai, my next stop is the Boston marathon. I run because it is good for my health, heart and spirit. I don’t know if exercise can assure you a longer life, but it sure does assure you a happier life,” said Theoto.

In a fitness survey conducted by VLCC through YouGov, 1,000 people across the UAE, including men and women across all age groups and various nationalities, were interviewed on their thoughts about the state of fitness in the country. The survey shows that 57 per cent of the UAE population believes it is only somewhat fit, and 28 per cent see themselves as not fit. The study also shows that 83 per cent of the UAE population are affected by their weight. About 62 per cent believe they need to lose weight to be fit, while 21 per cent need to gain weight. However, 56 per cent of the population believes they are fit if they look fit.

A maximum number of people believe that physical activity is the biggest contributor to the fitness level of person, while eating habits and weight contribute to the fitness levels, as well.

Khaleej Times also caught up with a few residents in Dubai who said that they now notice a healthy change in trend where people are focusing on leading a healthier life. “As compared to the United States, which has the maximum number of obese people, I personally haven’t found so many here. When I started out, I used to weigh 92kg and now I weigh 64kg. It is also important that the youth look into fitness. Young people don’t have the patience to train for a fit body. It is hard work but in the end it is worth it,” said Theoto.

However youngsters like Sumedh Rane (22) and Poornima Nair (21) think that fitness is purely a personal effort: “It differs from person to person. The lifestyle here is very easy for most people. If you believe in fitness, you would keep yourself healthy,” said Rane. On the other hand, Nair said that people generally tend to put on weight a lot easier in this part of the world.

“A lot of people here are generally obese mostly because most services are very convenient. Also gyms are quiet expensive. In terms of awareness, it would be good if you distribute fitness pamphlets to mall visitors instead of spraying perfumes and other cosmetics on them,” said Nair.

“There is an increased change in the mind set of the people now,” said Atulya Rajendran (19).

She added that schools also need to encourage youngsters to play more sports.

Several respondents of the Khaleej Times also think that fitness is a fantastic way to beat stress. While 42 per cent of the women believe reducing stress is very important to be healthy, only 35 per cent of men believe reducing stress is important.

Finance professional Rajendran Kumar (50) said: “The weather plays a major role here. Outdoor sports are sometimes a tad too difficult for most people because it’s too hot or too cold here and gyms are also expensive. People should make it a habit to walk because it is the best way to remain fit.”

The survey also states that 41 per cent of the population believes that maintaining a healthy weight is very important to stay fit and 53 per cent of the population believes eating right is very important to being healthy, of which 62 per cent is the ratio for women as opposed to 47 per cent among men.



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