Tag: physical fitness

August 7, 2018

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-by Dr. Alozie Ndubuka


When your lifestyle doesn’t include regular and adequate amount of physical activities or movements, then you are living a sedentary lifestyle. And this is one of the most passively damaging acts you can do to your health.

No. The fact that you have a job, or that you are always busy doesn’t make your life active, if all you do at work is sit at a desk or stare at computer screens for significantly long stretches of time. To escape the negative tolls of sedentary living, your daily activities must include reasonable amount of ‘movement’. The type of movements that engage your limbs and joints, and your heart to pump significantly.

I understand that your schedule is busy as anything, and you think it’s virtually impossible to incorporate such deliberate physical activities into your daily life or set aside regular periods for exercise routines. If you take a deeper look at your schedule, you’ll agree that this is not always true.

We can’t overemphasise the roles of physical fitness in keeping a straight head and balanced health. But, not many people consider it that much important as many are wont to flippantly attempt to justify their inactivity by claiming they are not headed to the Olympic games.

Not funny.

Let’s leave the talk about how you can ensure consistent physical activities for another day. whether you agree with the medical position on physical activities or not, a sedentary lifestyle takes a harmful toll on your health, and it could be fatal. You wouldn’t normally know or see it coming because it hurts you ever so gradually.

In this article, I will explain a few ways sedentary lifestyle constitutes a huge risk to your health.


Weaker Muscles and Body Systems

When a body part is restricted to a spot for a long period of time, the muscles and systems deteriorate and lose strength. The person therefore, usually need to undergo some physiotherapy. i.e. the therapy meant to restore strength to the body parts.

That’s exactly the same way the body needs consistent physical activities as therapy to maintain its functionalities, if we are subjected to being stationery for long periods of time.

The heart, the circulatory systems and muscles reinvigorate themselves when engaged. Blood pressure will be balanced, and circulation will flow seamlessly because no part of the body is weak.

So, without physical activities, all these become too weak to function as appropriate. And… just consider the heart being weak to function properly. That is dangerous.



                                          Image credit: bigstockphoto.com


When you spend too much time sitting or lying in a single position, you over-work your bones. They become weak and fragile.

That is osteoporosis and It is characterized by severe pains, especially in the joints. Furthermore, it makes you prone to fractures due to your bones and joints becoming weak.

Also, people with the challenge are at risk of losing their mobility at an early age. And this is one condition you wouldn’t want to experience.


Loss of Flexibility

The longer you sit in a spot, the more your abs and glutes become weaker; the more your hip flexors and low back become tight.

Athletes maintain an active lifestyle to keep their body parts mobile and flexible. Otherwise, different joints will become stiff one after another. And this can make life uncomfortable in more ways than one as we advance in age.


Poor Metabolism

The effect of sedentary lifestyle tells a lot on the internal functions of your body. One such effect is on your metabolism. Metabolism is the body’s process of using foods for energy and growth. It involves burning calories and breaking down fats.

A sedentary lifestyle prevents this from happening because there will be no activity to burn the calories or expend energy from the food taken. So, you find yourself storing calories and fats, both of which shouldn’t stay long in the body system.


Poor Sleep

Women’s Health Magazine describes this as a consequence of sitting for long hours with lack of sufficient circulation. This creates fluid build-up in your legs, and when you later lie down to sleep, fluid migrates to the muscles and tissues of your neck. Hence, you have difficulty relaxing your mind for sleep.

Lack of adequate amount of sleep is taxing on many levels, and is especially detrimental to mental wellness.


Troubled Mental Health 

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Physical activities have proven to be a mood enhancer. However, Depression, and Anxiety thrive in a sedentary environment. The mind is more linked to the lack of moving than most people realize.

You can prove this yourself by just taking that jug on one early morning, and take a stroll at work to get away from your seat. You’ll be amazed at how elated your spirit will be.


Blood Clotting

One of the most significant reasons for physical activities is to keep the blood warm and flowing unhindered. But when you shun that, you are at the risk of blood clots forming along the arteries. This could also result in sluggish blood flow.

The blood could form clots along the arteries and in organs such as the lungs. The complications are high and could even include death.


Fat and Blood Sugar Build-up

By sitting for long hours, you allow body fats to build up in your body. When this become excess, it is capable of clogging circulatory pathways in the body.

Likewise sugar, it converts to glucose upon consumption to give you energy. But, what happens when you refuse to use any energy? The sugar accumulates, and stays much longer in the blood stream than is appropriate.

This is why cases of diabetics will always be prevalent with sedentary lives.



So, why wait until some of those detrimental consequences occur before you take-up an active lifestyle?

The cheerful news is that you are not even required to do much: you don’t have to spend hours at the gym, as little as a 30-minute walk everyday around the block, or a regular step-climbing exercise in your home or at the neighbourhood footbridge will go a mighty long way to help.

Or simply, just take the stairs when you get to work instead of using the elevator. Really it works, and this particularly helps in boosting your fitness level over time. And there are various types of quick-fix simple office exercises you can do even in your living room.

Your healthy conducts remain incomplete without an active lifestyle. It doesn’t have to become a complicated process. Just a set of deliberate activities you adopt as an integral part of your life will make the positive difference.

Are you having difficulty keeping to an active lifestyle? I understand that it could be tedious sometimes. But don’t worry about that alone. Share about your struggle in the comment box.

You’ll surely learn something, and we can offer some advice here at St Ives Hospital which you’ll definitely find helpful.


About the Author


Dr. Alozie Ndubuka is a seasoned surgeon and family health specialist. He is presently the Medical Director at the St. Ives Family Clinic in Ikeja, Lagos.

August 6, 2018


“Prevention is better than cure” might be a cliché, but the expression is one of the truest gospels when it comes to healthcare. However, it is quite ironic that when it comes to people’s wellbeing, preventative measures are often neglected in favor of curative measures.

In a November 2016 report, the Centre for Disease Control, CDC estimated that preventable deaths from 5 leading causes which were diseases of the heart, cancers, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases (CLRD such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema), and unintentional injuries (accidents) accounted for 63 percent of deaths in that year in the United States.

Though the statistics cited above is from the United States, the utter disregard of preventative medicine in Nigeria is a widespread social habit with morbid repercussions on many levels. We have this endemic apathy to preventative medicine that is telling hard on community health across board.

A Shocking statistics showed that 70% of pregnancy-related deaths in Nigeria could be attributed to preventable diseases; diarrhoea has a 10% death rate in the country due to poor prevention; while malaria claims hundreds of thousands of lives every year because we fail to take the most basic prevention steps.

This unpleasant collective phenomenon is only an apt reflection of our reactive nature as a people on personal levels. When last did you visit the hospital for a quick check up? Better still, what deliberate steps are you taking to keep yourself healthy? Unfortunately, not many Nigerians can answer that positively. But what do we expect when only 30% of health facilities are public and affordable? And a mere 43% of the people are the only ones with access to quality health care. Meanwhile, government funding of the health sector keeps diminishing.

Notwithstanding the trend highlighted above, each one of us has the responsibility to adopt preventative medicine on our own and imbibe it religiously in order to influence the larger collectives, because it is the best way to go in living consistently healthy lives.


What is preventative medicine?

Preventative medicine are deliberate measures or interventions taken with the purpose of eliminating or reducing the risks or threats of impending diseases or injuries well before the onset of symptoms. For example, routine Pap tests for women or prostate exams for men. Medications, like low-dose daily aspirin therapy, and counselling services, such as nutrition and exercise guidance, are also examples of preventative care and services.

There are three main categories: primary prevention aims to stop diseases or injuries before they ever occur; secondary prevention involves reducing the impact of a disease or injury that has already occurred; while, tertiary prevention entails softening the impact of an ongoing illness or injury that has lasting effects.

Since our focus is on actual prevention, I will highlight seven simple but essential types of preventative medicine that basically fall under primary and secondary preventive care. These are proven strategies that you can adopt right away as they are effective in deterring diseases and minimizing negative impacts so you enjoy a consistently healthy lifestyle.


Lifestyle Modifications

Everything about preventative medicine is lifestyle medicine. It goes beyond regular hospital visits or occasional buying of insecticides to kill mosquitoes. It involves a set of activities that are applicable to every aspect of our daily lives, and which must be consistently practiced. Simply put: It is A Lifestyle.

From what we eat to how and when we eat. From how we work to how and how much we rest and play.

It starts with a decision to live a healthy life, followed by making a number of health-preserving choices across various aspects of our life. These set of choices must also be matched with the sacrifice of cutting out hazardous activities or habits that endanger health. Finally, the preventive step must be cemented by religiously consistent practice and the determination to not fail.

From the above, it is clear that preventative lifestyle is a give and take practice: you take up some habits, and you do away with certain others in order to have that overall positive balance that boosts and sustains good health.

For example, a decision to start eating healthy diet and exercising will not yield desired result if you are still smoking and taking excessive alcohol. Or the measure to use insecticide treated net to ward off malaria attacks will be jeopardized if you do not practice strict personal hygiene, especially with regards to food handling to keep away infections and other communicable diseases.

Preventative medicine is wholistic and the lifestyle modifications undertaken must be comprehensive enough to protect us from both physical and mental impairments. More importantly is to start by identifying and doing away with certain habits that constitute health hazards as we take the steps to start eating right, drinking right, working right, sleeping right and living right.


Regular Health Assessments

Ideally, everyone: man, woman and child, should have scheduled regular visits to the doctor for brief checks and assessments of our health. This is important on so many levels, but more so because early detection of some unavoidable serious ailments like cancers helps in successfully fighting them or minimizing their unpleasant impacts. But we have this wrong and damaging mindset in Nigeria that regular medical checks are only for the rich.

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Diseases have both obvious and subtle symptoms, which means you may not have any idea of an impending danger. During such sessions, the assessments and diagnostic procedures will check for symptoms of impending ailments, minor or otherwise such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a few other conditions you won’t usually detect on your own such as screenings for various types of cancers.

At St. Ives, one of our foremost services is our comprehensive checks and assessments offerings for men and women. These entail a set of specialized tests, procedures and screenings carefully packaged for both individual and corporate clients, with the aim of helping them identify their health status on different fronts so as to perform better and live more fulfilling lives.


Routine Vaccination

Here, the medical practitioner provides injection medications that protect against deadly diseases such as polio, measles and bumps. Also known as immunization, this is mostly applicable to children. However, adults may need to be immunized in certain cases like women getting immunized against cervical cancer.

Routine vaccinations for children are mostly free and can be easily accessed in most medical facilities, but with thousands of children dying yearly to those diseases, it is safe to conclude that the general public’s approach to this aspect of preventive medicine is considerably poor, and thus needs improving.

This is another reason you need to count on us on all issues around family care. We make it our priority to ensure your new-borns enjoy perfect health in their starts to life, and that involves compulsory vaccinations against most common and deadly diseases, especially with our WHO approved EPI, the Expanded Program on Immunization made available for children delivered in our hospitals and those registered with us after birth.

Women are also advised to go for vaccinations in form of test kits meant to prevent cases like cancer of any kind. There also medications with calcium, vitamins, iron and folic acid, all working to keep the bones strong and help prevent complications during pregnancy.


Hygiene Awareness

Tuberculosis, meningitis, hepatitis, diarrhoea, cholera… The leading causes of death in Nigeria are communicable diseases. And communicable diseases are infections that are easily preventable.

The high prevalence and fatality of these infectious diseases is a direct testament to the appalling level of our hygiene practices as a people. This is in spite of repeated calls by medical practitioners and several other organizations for improved hygiene awareness and practice in the country.

What is required is a concerted increase in levels of personal hygiene, which starts basically with inculcating the habit of regular handwashing; but people only take up handwashing when there is outbreaks of epidemics, and they are quick to revert to their previous unhygienic habits soon after the epidemics is contained. We can and should do better.

Other hygienic practices should include ensuring clean and safe drinking water, strict food hygiene, and personal grooming.


Fitness Regimen

We can’t over-emphasize the importance of physical activities in health maintenance. From burning excess calories and keeping the heart active to ensuring seamless blood flow throughout the body, exercise has clear impacts on a healthy lifestyle.

With reduced calories, you are free from the fear of gaining unnecessary weight. Exercises decreases the deposits of cholesterol, thereby preventing health conditions like stroke, depression and diabetics.

As simple as taking a walk up your street for a few minutes or early morning jugs, you will be keeping yourself fit. The physiological impacts cuts across every body structure, ensuring to keep everything in balance.

An insight from Mayo Clinic adds that physical exercise enhances your mood, sends energy high, promotes better sleep and reward you with an active sex life.
So, what’s stopping you from creating an exercise schedule right now?


Smoking Cessation

The devastating hazards of poisonous air to health and wellbeing of human beings cannot be overemphasized. Tobacco remains the leading preventable cause of death in the world as it is found to be a major factor in four out of the five leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung disease and stroke. It causes about a third of heart disease and cancer, and most emphysema.

Therefore, conscious efforts must therefore be made to STOP SMOKING and keep the air around you and your loved ones free of smoke as much as possible in all areas that you inhabit such as the home, workplace, schools and playground.

This requires even more vigilance and steadfastness because most times, you are not the one committing the act. So, even if you don’t smoke yourself, watch out for, and avoid inhaling side-stream smoke and/or carbon monoxide from burning elements or exhaust from vehicles in traffic.


Health Insurance

Finally, this is one area that Nigerians really need to inculcate into their lives.
Beyond taking away the burden of having to ‘pay-out-of-pocket’ for healthcare, the benefits of having health insurance or subscribing to managed-care plans are manifold and far-reaching.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans are fundamentally focused on wellness and illness prevention with the core philosophy that these preventative measures are more cost-effective than treating chronic conditions that develop due to negligence or lack of screening.

Therefore, HMOs make preventative medicine easier. Most of their plans come with predefined schedules that cover regular assessments and screening tests, based on a patient’s age, sex and other risk factors. Common preventative services found in managed-care plans include routine physical exams, some adult immunizations, routine gynaecological exams and Pap-smear tests for women, mammographic screening for women over 40, as well as paediatric care and immunizations.

One such managed care organization is Ives Medicare HMO that offers reliable plans that cover year-round health assessment benefits is Ives Medicare. You just need to subscribe to a plan that suits you among the available options for a low monthly fee. Then, the rest is up to you.



It does feel great when you can avoid health complications before it surfaces at all. However, it won’t happen on its own as it takes serious committed work.

By observing the seven steps here highlighted in addition to others, you can enjoy all-round good health and wellbeing, saving you high hospital bills, time wasted, as well as the pain and inconvenience of treating full-blown diseases or injuries.

Do you need help keeping to any of these disease prevention methods? We can provide you with insights, approaches and steps to take to imbibe them as a lifestyle. Add your comment about your struggles below, and let’s take it up from there.


About The Author

Dr. Babatunde Okewale is a UK trained Obstetrician, Gynecologist and a leading fertility expert, heading the St. Ives Healthcare Group in Nigeria.