Seychelles: Campaign for a Healthier, More Active Seychelles Gaining Steam

As Seychelles' health authorities lead a campaign of 'Bouze' - meaning move with the aim of having a healthier nation - more locals and visitors are becoming engaged in outdoor physical activities.

The head of the promotional health unit in the Ministry of Health, George Madeleine, who is also leading the 'Bouze' campaign, said ministry officials have organized a lot of activities and this has pushed more people to take up exercise and living a healthier lifestyle.

The ministry is encouraging its own staff to take part in the campaign as they want to be a role model and Madeleine says it is no longer enough to just tell people to go and exercise.

The measures being undertaken are to prevent or curtail obesity related diseases like diabetes in the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. A national survey on non-communicable diseases conducted between 2013 and 2014 showed that around three-quarters of the Seychelles' population of 93,000 was overweight and 11 percent were already suffering from diabetes.

"We constantly need to ensure that we provide the right opportunity and environment for people to engage in outdoor physical activities. This applies to more fitness trails and safe pavement for runners," said Madeleine.

Madeline added that the increase in the number of overweight people is alarming and the ministry is planning to collaborate with the National Sports Council (NSC) and the ministry of education to synchronize activities that will reduce the level of obesity.

Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) placed Seychelles as the African country with the highest prevalence of hypertension, local authorities said they have noticed a downward trend as a result of the various measures the ministry has undertaken.

Audrey Sinon, who tries to cover 4 miles of walking along the road each day, told SNA that she believes exercising is good for one's wellbeing.

"More often people wait for an injury or the inability to perform their daily activity to exercise and in certain cases, this does not really help them get to back to their original good shape," Sinon said.

She added that exercise outside should be fun so that even under duress it will not seem so difficult.

"Get going until you find activities that make you happy as well as healthy. Choose your exercise using the same criteria you'd apply to choosing a date -- that is, attractive to you and able to hold your interest for a long time," she said.

Sinon said she has noticed a positive change in her body weight and plus it helps her to sleep well at night. She prefers exercising outside in the natural environment where there is pure oxygen.

Georgia Maria, 25, said that doing exercise outside in groups is a wonderful experience and acts as a source of motivation.

"I started on a daily outdoor exercise routine about two years ago and now I have noticed some incredible results," Maria said.

"It helps to reduce stress and boost up my concentration span at work," said Maria who also advises not to get frustrated if you don't achieve the result you desire right away.

The public health commissioner, Jude Gedeon, said that it is no secret that exercise is essential to live a healthy and fulfilling life into old age.

Gedeon said that outside exercise provides more oxygen for aerobic respiration and it gives you the mental boost you need.

"Working out outside can help improve your immune function, help you sleep at night, increase endorphin production and exposure to early sun rise provides vitamin D3," he told SNA.

Gedeon said that apart from boosting your mental status, exercise can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease like Type 2 diabetes and stroke.

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