Mzansi has the third highest incidence of heart disease in the world. There is a heart attack every 10 minutes in South Africa and a fatal heart attack occurs every 45 minutes.
Andrew Heilbrunn, from the Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology’s Biokinetic Centre in Joburg, said inactivity and low physical fitness contribute greatly to the increasing rates of heart disease and stroke.
In Mzansi, four out 10 men and seven out of 10 women are overweight or obese. Being overweight may not feel bad but it can suddenly produce devastating heart problems if undiagnosed or untreated.
Heilbrunn said research has found that inactive and unfit people appeared to have a higher risk for heart disease and strokes than those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
They also found that men who were obese but moderately fit had a significantly lower risk of heart disease than men who were obese and unfit.
“This means that as long as you are relatively fit or active for 45 to 60 minutes a day, even if you are overweight, you will have significant protection against heart disease and stroke. This is particularly important for people with type 2 diabetes who struggle with their weight.”
Traditionally, the preferred approach to weight loss has been kilojoule restriction and exercise used to maintain weight loss.
“Both exercise and diet restrictions have their pros and cons but a combination is definitely the best option.”
The next question is: “How much exercise is necessary to bring about weight loss and improve your fitness levels?”
Different studies claim that exercising from 30 to 75 minutes a day is needed. The Centre for Diabetes Fitness proposes a practical combination of endurance and resistance training, three to four times a week at 30 to 60 minutes a time, mixed with informal light activity such as gardening, shopping, housework, DIY work or walking.
“There is no doubt that exercise plays a key role in the prevention and management of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
“It improves overall fitness, promotes blood glucose control, reduces body fat and cardiovascular risk but most of all, getting fitter and healthier improves your thinking and mood, and your overall quality of life.”