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Assuring women's health helps them fulfill significant roles
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 09 - 11 - 2013


Dr. Badr Alshibani
Our body is designed to move. Being a fitness expert and entrepreneur, I am aware that physical activities, exercise routines and sports play a vital role in keeping our body in top-shape. Besides improving blood circulation, they also boost energy, strengthen the heart and relieve depression.
The prevalence of cardiovascular diseases, depression and cancer is an alarming issue that concerns everyone. According to research, heart attack is the leading cause of death among females. In fact, a 50-year old woman faces 46 percent risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD). Therefore, the importance of improving women's well-being must not be overlooked. With their significant contribution to the sustenance of human life and nation building, I am convinced that every female member of our society must be given the opportunity to stay fit.
The Kingdom is among the many countries that are struggling to promote women's holistic well-being. In fact, the female population in the country is not allowed to participate in sports clubs or even watch sports competition in stadiums. Besides traditional beliefs, cultural norms and laws, the lack of healthcare facilities and equipment are also considered a primary cause of its increasing “unwell” population. In fact, a survey by Gallup.com shows that poor exercise habits greatly contribute to the region's growing problems with diabetes and obesity. Moreover, almost 22 percent of females in the country suffer from depression and other psychological adversity. Thus, the Saudi government is urged to invest in indoor gyms to encourage more female participation in physical activities and sports. The most prevalent diseases among females in the country include:
Cardiovascular diseases - According to the World Health Organization, 54 percent of deaths in the Eastern Mediterranean Region are due to cardiovascular diseases. Thus, the prevalence of obesity, particularly among females in Saudi Arabia, was reported to be 70 percent. It is also projected that 25 million people will die from cardiovascular diseases, 80 percent of which will take place in low- to middle-income countries by 2030.
Diabetes mellitus - Another chronic disease that concerns women's health is diabetes. It is one of the most common metabolic disorders worldwide that is usually caused by socioeconomic status, age, gender, genetic susceptibility, lifestyle and other environmental factors. It is often described by doctors as inadequate insulin production that affects body function. According to the American Diabetes Association, the prevalence of diabetes among Saudi women (5.9 percent) is twice that of men (2.9 percent).
Hypertension - Hypertension or high-blood pressure is a common condition in which the heart has to pump harder to supply oxygen to the different parts of the body. According to research, the prevalence of hypertension in Saudi Arabia will increase by 29 percent by 2025. Its major causes are attributed to sedentary lifestyles, changes in dietary habits and stress.
Women's health is a significant issue that impacts the country and it is therefore, equally important to understand that living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining general good health does not only prolong life but also enables us to make the most of it. Thus, in my experience, effective fitness programs and access to wellness facilities is also vital to help women fulfill their changing roles in society.


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