The Importance of Exercise in combating Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs)

The Importance of Exercise in combating Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs)


For the past few months, the Ministry of Health has been focusing on raising awareness on Non-Communicable Diseases and the importance of exercise. Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are non-contagious and they are the leading cause of death in Jamaica.  In 2015, an estimated seven out of ten Jamaicans died from the four major NCDs [Ministry of Health 2018]. The major risk factors of NCDs are physical inactivity, unhealthy diets and tobacco and alcohol abuse.

Physical inactivity not only increases the risk of NCDs but it also shortens lifespan by 3-5 years. In the same fashion, the growing cost of medical care and with the loss of productivity, inactivity also acts as a burden to society. The National Institue of Health explains physical activity in very simple terms. Any bodily movement that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness is physical activity. However, the terms physical activity” and “exercise” are not the same. As a matter of fact; exercise is a subcategory of physical activity. Physical activity is considered planned, repetitive, and aims to improve or maintain one or more components of physical fitness.

Regular activity can improve your quality of life. Along with exercise, physical activity has both immediate and long-term benefits.  The recommended 30 minutes a day will allow you to enjoy these benefits. There are many ways in which one can be physically active. Popular ways include: walking, running, sports or going to the gym.

Benefits of Regular Physical Activity

  • reducing your risk of a heart attack
  • managing your weight more effectively
  • having a lower blood cholesterol level
  • having a lower blood pressure
  • lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers
  • having stronger bones, muscles and joints. It also lowers the risk of developing osteoporosis

Enhancing Mental Health

A number of studies have found that regular exercise improves mental health. Below is a list of ways in which exercise helps people who are mentally ill:

  • exercise may block negative thoughts or distract you from daily worries.
  • exercising with others provides an opportunity for increased social contact.
  • increased fitness may lift your mood and improve your sleep patterns.
  • exercise may also change levels of chemicals in your brain, such as serotonin, endorphins and stress hormones.

It is recommended to stay physically active to reduce your risk for health problems. As represented by the Ministry of Health, we agree that it is our duty to ‘love our bodies and treat our bodies right’.

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