More parks in Qatar should have outdoor exercise equipment installed to encourage residents to get active, the Central Municipal Council (CMC) has reportedly said.
In its regular meeting yesterday, the CMC made several recommendations to the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME).
They included increasing the number of parks and green spaces in the country, adding more public fitness equipment and creating a greater number of dedicated spaces for women to work-out in these parks, Qatar Tribune reported.
The elected body also asked for the MME and Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage to collaborate and employ sports coaches in the parks to guide people on how to properly use the fitness equipment, Gulf Times said.
To prevent spread of diseases, the MME should also coordinate with the Ministry of Public Health to ensure the equipment is regularly cleaned, the CMC added.
Mohammed bin Ali Al Athba, chairman of the CMC’s committee for complaints and petitions, said the recommendations were part of a wider remit by the council to engage more residents in sports and to adopt an active lifestyle to prevent disease, the Qatar Tribune added.
Fitness equipment has already been installed in several public spaces, including along the Corniche pathway and the new Sheraton Park.
The machines have proved popular with residents, especially in the evening and during weekends.
The CMC is Qatar only elected body, but has no legislative power. It has long called for more and larger parks in the country.
The issue was raised in a council meeting in November last year and was also appeared on the campaign trail in 2015 when Sheikha al-Jufairi – who was re-elected to the CMC in May – suggested that a portion of the old Doha International Airport property be re-purposed as a park.
Late last year the then-Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (MMUP) announced plans construct 59 public parks in Qatar by early 2016 at a cost of QR1.5 billion.
These included five new parks in Doha and 25 in Al Rayyan.
Qatar has several parks of varying sizes, many of which can get crowded on evenings and weekends.
After a QR250 million, multi-year renovation, Al Khor Park finally opened to the public this February. Visitors numbers soared and during one weekend in late March 30,000 residents went to the park, the MME said.
The push to make it easier for residents to exercise in parks comes as the country’s population grapples with health challenges caused, in part, by inactivity.
Nearly a quarter of Qatar’s residents suffer from diabetes, which can increase the risk of health complications such as kidney disease and blindness, as well as shortened lifespans.
Obesity is another major problem in the state, which is home to one of the world’s largest proportion of overweight adults, according to report issued in 2014.
As a result, authorities have been trying to encourage residents to adopt a more active lifestyle and a healthier diet.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Public Health launched a public campaign with TV commercials, billboard advertisements and videos to shame residents to get off the sofa.
In them, young children try to get their parents to play with them, but both mother and father are too tired and opt to stay on the couch and watch TV, eating snacks.
The parents get more unfit, and the video ends with the message: “Stay with your family, be active…our future is in our health.”
During the summer, many malls launch indoor walking sessions, especially in the early mornings.
Government ministries and private sector organizations typically organize a range of different sports activities for all age groups.
Would you use fitness equipment in public parks? Thoughts?