Health problems such as obesity and overweight have become common because of poor physical activity. There has been a paradigm shift in lifestyle whereby individuals have neglected even the simplest physical exercises. For instance, not many people walk to school, market, or the workplace. Others prefer to use the lift instead of walking up the stairs. These are some of neglected individual physical activities that can help reduce health problems like obesity and overweight. In Kuwait, the number of obese people among the population is high because of low physical activity (Alsairafi, Khalil and Anwar 6). The habit of being inactive physically has been embedded in the society, making obesity acceptable. However, this is posing a health threat because lack of physical activity can result in an obese and overweight nation. Physical activity is essential in maintaining the body mass index and acts as a treatment of obesity and overweight, leading to a sustainable lifespan. Frequent physical activity can reduce other resulting diseases like stroke, cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, and osteoporosis. The current individual physical activity pattern in Kuwait is disturbing because of low physical activity and increased obesity rate.
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Current individual physical activity pattern in Kuwait
Kuwait has a low physical activity rate, with the number of people in the population being high. Al-Isa, Campbell and Desapriya (para 3) note that obesity level has continued to increase with a third of the population being obese. The trend is increasing with the adolescent and the youth engaging less in physical activities. This has been attributed to the fact that there are few physical exercise activities in the country. According to Al-Isa, Campbell, Desapriya, and Wijesinghe (1) a study carried among students in Kuwait showed that there was an emerging trend whereby students faced the risk of being obsess and overweight because of low levels of activity. The study also shows that most of the adults in the Middle East (including Kuwait) have low levels of physical activity. In a survey conducted by Al-Isa et al (4), among 787 students of Kuwait College showed that 45% of the students who participated reported being inactive while 55% claimed to be active. This pattern can be attributed to the fact that most of the population lives sedentary lifestyles and do not engage in physical activities. Students from Kuwait are more likely to be obese because they spend most of their time reading.
Women in Kuwait are less involved in physical activities because there are few exercise facilities for women (Al-Isa et al. 4).This has increased the number of women who do not participate in physical activity. Being plump and overweight among the women of Kuwait is not a negative attribute. This encourages them to keep away from physical activities thus an increase in inactivity rate. In their study Al-Isa et al. (4) found out that among the participants obesity was more prevalent to men than women. The results indicated that obesity prevalence among males was 13% compared to that of females of 10.5%. This is because most of the students do not engage in physical exercise to utilize their energy. According to Al-Isa et al. the trend of physical inactivity and the rate of obesity are not expected to reduce (5). This is because obesity has become prevalent, individual physical activity has reduced, associated health risks and high cost of curbing and controlling them have all increased. Alsairafi, Alshamali and Al-rashed (383) note that there is a risk because the rate of physical inactivity is increasing.
Factors that influence the individual physical activity in Kuwait
There are several factors that influence individual physical activity among the population of Kuwait. The factors are based on the health behavior ecological behavior. According to Schneider (233) the ecological model is based on the social environment that includes community, interpersonal, organizational and the public policy factors. The factors have been subdivided in different categories and discussed in detail.
Schneider (234) describes public policy factors as those that are concerned with the regulations and behavior limitations. They act as the guiding principles to the people in influencing the behavior they would adopt. Kuwait lacks policies that would encourage students engage in physical activities. This is because the educational curriculum has not set aside time for physical activity (Al-Isa et al. 4). Women in Kuwait lack exercise facilities because of poor strategies and policy regarding the same. Women who engage in physical activity in Kuwait schools are few because they really participate in school physical activities. Al-Isa et al. suggest that individuals can be advised to walk home, use staircases in place of elevators and even use physical exercise gadgets in their home places (4).
The community plays a role in influencing the physical activity of an individual (Schneider 234). The rate of individual physical activity in Kuwait is low. This has been attributed to the fact that obesity and plumpness among women is seen as a positive attribute (Al-Isa et al. 4). The culture of the people of Kuwait influences the behavior because of the traditions and the perceptions that are held by the community. The geographical location of Kuwait also influences individual physical activity. The country is located in Middle East that experiences hot climate in most of the times of the year. Thus, the community has made it a belief that the hot climate cannot allow physical activities among the people. This has been adopted by the population making the rate of obesity and low individual activity rate increase. People of Kuwait lack exposure from other states. This according to (Al-Isa et al. 4) plays an integral role influencing the physical activity levels that may have influence on the individual physical activity patterns. Therefore, a shift in the trend can be alleviated through a shift in the cultural beliefs, norms and values held by the people of Kuwait.
These are factors that according to (Schneider 234) are related to institutions and organizations like workplaces and schools. The institutional settings are bound to influence individual physical activity. In Kuwait, the educational program does not include time for physical activity. According to study conducted by Al-Isa et al. (4) most of female students in colleges do not engage in physical activities. This is because there are few physical exercise facilities allocated for women. Al-Isa et al. notes that desire to get a higher degree may influence physical activity because students are expected to have high performance thus encouraging sedentary livelihoods (4). Students in colleges and universities spend less than seven hours in physical activity a week (Al-Isa et al. 4). Students put more emphasis on their academic work as opposed to their physical wellbeing, posing the threat of being obese. Obese people in Kuwait always take the excuse that there is not time for physical activity.
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These are the factors that are related to the interpersonal relations of an individual mainly from friends, family, and fellow co-workers (Schneider 233). For example, the family is responsible for activities and behaviors that people adopt from childhood and become part of their lifestyles. Peer pressure from friends and co-workers plays a crucial role in the behavior of an individual. In Kuwait for instance, being plump is acceptable and less regarded as a negative attribute (Al-Isa et al. 4). This is likely to influence individual activity because being plump is no big deal. This can discourage an individual in a family to engage less in physical activity. The norms that exist in a particular society can define the behavior of a particular individual (Schneider 234). In Kuwait, people live in sedentary lifestyles where less energy is expended though physical activity (Al-Isa et al. 3).
These factors involve the skills, knowledge, and attitude of an individual towards physical activity (Schneider 233). Obesity is not shunned away in Kuwait because the society has a positive attitude towards obesity. In a study carried by Al-Isa, Campbell and Desapriya (para 21) on factors that influence obesity among elementary school male students showed that lack of activity was a major cause. Some of the factors related to intrapersonal factors as found in the study are that students had the tendency of watching television for more than two hours while other avoided physical activity (Al-Isa, Campbell and Desapriya, para12). This has increased the number of overweight and obese people in Kuwait. Parents lack the knowledge and the required skills that is need in encouraging themselves to engage in physical activities. Alsairafi, Alshamali and Al-rashed (383) note that there is increased physical inactivity even though the hospitals advice hypertensive patient to engage in physical activities.
Obesity and overweight are common among the Kuwait population because of low individual activity rates. The physical activity pattern in Kuwait is expected to worsen because people are less involved. Women have less exercise facilities in Kuwait compared to men. Most people are less involved in physical activity and this could result in an increase in the pattern of physical activity in Kuwait. The factors that influence individual physical activity among the population of Kuwait includes community, intrapersonal, interpersonal, organizational and the public policy factors
Alsairafi Mona, Khalil Alshamali, Anwar Al-rashed. “Effect of Physical Activity on Controlling Blood Pressure among Hypertensive Patients from Mishref Area of Kuwait.” 2010. Web.
Al-Isa Abdulwahab Naser et al., “Social and Health Factors Associated with Physical Activity among Kuwaiti College Students,” Journal of Obesity. (2011).1-6.
Al-Isa Abdulwahab, N, Jennifer Campbell, and Ediriweera Desapriya. “Factors Associated with Overweight and Obesity among Kuwaiti Elementary Male School Children Aged 6-10 Years,” Int J Pediatr. 2010. Web.
Schneider, Mary-Jane. Introduction to Public Health. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2011. Print.