As the country prepares for National Sport Day (NSD) tomorrow, the results of two NSD-focused surveys have shed light on attitudes toward sports and physical activity in Qatar.
NSD has been held annually over the past three years as a way of combating rising rates of obesity and diabetes in the country. Although the findings show a slight rise in physical activity over the past year, many residents said they continue to find it hard to make the time to exercise.
Some 60 percent of respondents to one survey, conducted by advertising and PR company Agency 222, said that a lack of time was the main factor preventing them from exercising more often – up from 48 percent in the same survey last year.
The same survey also found that fewer people (30 percent of respondents) are exercising regularly (more than three times a week), which is down from 37 percent last year.
It also found that many residents feel that more needs to be done to educate people about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, with a majority (85 percent) of participants calling for more awareness campaigns.
Slight increase in participation
The results aren’t all doom and gloom, however. A separate survey conducted by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS) showed an overall increase in the number of people taking part in some sort of physical activity over the past year. This year’s tally was 74 percent, up from 72 percent in the previous year.
It found that the most popular forms of exercise for both Qataris (59 percent) and non-Qataris (49 percent) were walking and jogging.
This trend is reflected in the average financial outlay on sport, with the vast majority of participants saying they either spend nothing, or less than QR1000 on their exercise regime each year.
At the other end of the scale, two percent of Qataris and seven percent of non-Qataris questioned said they spent between QR5,000 and QR10,000 on their sport.
And – unsurprisingly for a country dealing with an obesity crisis – the survey also found that weight loss and staying fit were the primary motivations for both Qataris and expats taking exercise.
Experts have deemed an increase in exercise and healthy eating eating habits to be a vital part of Qatar’s action plan to improve the health of its population.
In 2012, Qatar was named the “fattest country in the world,” with 70 percent of its native population considered to be obese. Studies also suggest that up to 40 percent of children in Qatar are obese or morbidly obese.
Health experts say lifestyle changes must be made, especially among the younger generation, to avoid a high incidence of Type 2 diabetes in the future.
Currently, about 16 percent of Qatar’s population (both adults and children) have diabetes, and it’s been forecast that the total number of patients could double by 2030.
To get the most out of tomorrow’s QND, see our comprehensive guide on activities across Qatar here.
Are you going to take part tomorrow? Thoughts?