With winter officially over and temperatures now climbing past 40C in Qatar, residents of all ages are being encouraged to keep fitness levels up and keep walking through the “Step into Health” campaign at local malls.
The program, run by Aspetar, aims “to encourage each person to walk 10,000 steps and more a day (through) a non-competitive, recreational and social approach,” the sports medicine hospital said in a statement.
This weekend, temperatures are expected to reach between 39C-42C, according to the Qatar Meteorology Department.
Starting Friday evening, strong northwesterly winds will cause horizontal visibility to fall to less than 2km in some areas, due to blowing sand and dusty conditions.
These weather conditions are expected to last until Monday afternoon, and will likely keep many people indoors over the next few days.
The campaign also hopes to reduce the high rates of obesity and diabetes in the Gulf country.
As part of the campaign, health events will be held for the public at four malls in the next few months, including Hyatt Plaza Mall on April 25; City Center mall on May 2; Ezdan Mall on May 16; and Lagoona Mall on June 13.
The first event at Hyatt Plaza will run from 8:30am to 10:30am, starting at Gate 3, according to the group’s Facebook page.
The specific timings of the rest of events will be determined closer to the dates and additional malls could be added to the campaign’s events in the upcoming months, an Aspeter spokesperson told Doha News.
As part of the event, walking route and checkpoints will be set up across the mall for the event, encouraging participants to walk for more than 20 minutes.
This amount of exercise equates to around 2,300 steps and burns around 140 calories. Many free services will be offered to participants, including measuring their Body Mass Index.
There will also be a 30-minute educational session on physical activity, in addition to one hour of physical activity sessions for kids by professional trainers. Raffle draw winners will receive “symbolic” prizes as well, according to the Aspetar spokesperson.
Last year, 320 of Qatar’s residents participated in the Hyatt Plaza event.
At Ezdan Mall, two walking routes are expected to be set up on two separate floors like last year. Each route challenges participants to walk 1,600 steps, which is equal to burning 90 calories.
As part of the initiative, Aspetar will launch the Ezdan Mall Walking Club on May 16.
The club offers participants free monthly health checks by Aspetar nurses, information sessions, gift vouchers and pedometers on the last Saturday of each month.
The first Walking Club was launched in 2013, in Hyatt Plaza Mall.
Other health activities
Aspetar’s walking campaign was first launched in 2012 to encourage residents to stay active.
The initiative “Walk more … Walk the Mall” was first launched last year.
It aims to spread mall-walking culture more widely by “encouraging shopping centers to adopt the concept to provide a safe and comfortable environment for summertime physical activity,”said Abdulla Saeed Al-Mohannadi, a health promotion researcher at Aspetar.
Booths were previously set up in several malls across the country, including Villaggio, City Center, Ezdan, Hyatt Plaza, Landmark, Dar Al Salaam and Al Khor. Organizers distributed flyers with health tips and route maps for walking in the mall, alongside information on the number of steps and calories burnt during the walk.
For example, in Villaggio, the 30-minute route mapped out by the campaign includes 3,000 steps and would burn around 150 calories.
In Ezdan Mall, the 17-minute route proposed on each floor includes around 1,600 steps, which burn around 80 calories.
The flyers offer advice for beginners, including stretching before and after walking, starting slow and easy, keeping one’s back straight, maintaining a steady pace and taking long even steps as well as drinking plenty of water.
The flyers add that studies found that the health benefits of walking briskly for 30 minutes includes lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke, decreasing stress, better sleep quality as well as reducing one’s cholesterol levels, the risk of high blood pressure and some cancers.
The campaign also offers free pedometers to measure one’s steps for those who sign up.
Others who prefer to use their smart phones can download free apps from the campaign’s official website that help users track of the number of steps taken daily and as well as one’s intake of calories.
Do you plan to lace up your trainers and head to the mall this weekend? Thoughts?