Physical exercise, or lack of it, determines our health. While this might be clear to all and sundry, some people still struggle to draw the connection between physical exercise and health. Physical exercise, or lack of it thereof, profoundly influences our health outcomes, for instance, our mental and physical health. One of the risk factors for non-communicable diseases such as cancers, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, according to to WHO, is physical inactivity. In light of this revelation, it is apparent that building sustainable physical exercise habits can go a long way in reducing our exposure to chronic conditions which are the leading cause of death in Kenya and even globally.

While essentially everyone agrees that exercise is incredibly important and desires to exercise every day, a number of people struggle with building sustainable physical exercise that can meaningfully improve their health. In fact, some have accepted their fate after they failed to keep up with the demand for routine physical exercise. Fortunately, there exist practical ways through which everyone can build sustainable exercise habits.

From Oduor’s perspective, we explore some of the tips for building sustainable physical exercise. Oduor Kevin is not a bodybuilder, neither is he a physical exercise trainer. He is an NCD advocate who is passionate about helping people address their vulnerability to non-communicable diseases. He offers advice to people on how to build sustainable physical exercise at home or even at the gym. His golden nuggets are useful for those who want to improve their health outcomes by being physically active.

5 Tips for Building Sustainable Physical Exercise Habit- Oduor’s Viewpoint

In a 2022 interview with Radio France Internationale (RFI), Oduor weighed in on the conversation around physical activity as a preventative measure against chronic diseases (non-communicable diseases). He observed that the world is currently experiencing an epidemiological transition from infectious diseases to chronic diseases. According to available evidence, chronic diseases kill close to 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71% of all global deaths. Evidence also indicates that 77% of all NCDs are in low-and middle-income countries. Many countries, including Kenya, are even experiencing a double burden of disease meaning that both non-communicable diseases and communicable diseases are on the rise. In Kenya, 50% of total hospital admissions are attributable to NCDs, painting a grim picture of our healthcare system.

During his interview with RFI, Oduor shared his experience and journey with physical fitness and NCDs advocacy. As an NCD advocate, he remarks that physical activity helps improve brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of exposure to diseases, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve the ability to do everyday activities. With the WHO indicating that physical activity reduces diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, depression, stroke, and colon and breast cancer, it only makes sense that each individual should embrace it, he observes.

Everybody desires or wishes they could regularly do exercise. But many lack the skills and the wherewithal to launch into a life of physical fitness and make it a habit. In keeping with this reality, here are some of the tips from Oduor that he believes can help individuals improve their experience with physical exercise.

Tip 1: Physical exercise should be simple. Oduor warns that physical exercise must not be hard or intense unless you are a bodybuilder who wants to build muscles very fast. No pain no gain is an old and tired dogma that Oduor believes does not really apply to physical exercise. If you make it hard, you will feel exhausted and give up before you reach your goals/targets. If you make it simple and enjoyable, you will always be looking forward to waking up for it the next day. Make it simple and sustainable. One is more likely to be successful if they start with a 15-minute workout once a work and keep adding as they build endurance.

Tip 2: Be consistent. As Oduor puts it, consistency is the name of the game. Consistency is the new currency. You can spend a whole day in the gym, but if you are not consistent, you are just as good as those who do not hit the gym. Oduor advises those who want to build sustainable physical exercise habits to make it simple, be consistent, and see how the body rewards them.

Tip 3: Concentrate on the process, then the progress. Oduor implores those who desire to abolish the boring and unhealthy sedentary lifestyle not to be preoccupied with immediate results. Oduor laments that there are several fitness programs that promise quick gains in a matter of weeks when in reality achieving meaningful outcomes takes time. These programs, he observes, concentrate on progress while totally disregarding the process. Process informs progress. The process helps build habits. Progress inspires quick gains that might not be sustainable.  Oduor warns that if you don’t fall in love with exercise, it is only a matter of a week or two and you go back to your old life, devoid of physical exercise; a lazy and sedentary lifestyle, to say the least. Trust the process and fall in love with progress. Without too much effort, you will begin to notice the simple changes in your life/overall health, and this will keep you going.

Tip 4: Physical exercise should be among your daily chores/errands. Oduor draws us to a very incredible analogy and food for thought. He challenges us to think about the things we do on a daily basis like making our bed, cleaning the room, preparing a meal, or attending meetings. What if physical exercise was part of our daily errands? Think about the benefits we can reap as a result of making it our habit to exercise. Oduor assures us that the rewards are numerous, even satisfying.  Make it your habit, improve your health, glow, and keep NCDs at bay.

Tip 5: If you can do it where you live, the better. During the interview, Oduor confessed that he struggles with commuting to the gym. He says it is a big hassle, aah! While this tip is relevant to those who do not have a gym at their apartment or residence, the message is one. Exercise should be done around where we live unless one is going for an evening walk or a run. But most exercises, Oduor reveals, can be done indoors or at the nearby gym so that a significant amount of time is not wasted commuting. That time could be used in doing something useful. Interestingly, Oduor does his workout on the balcony, and he says that it serves him well. With this, he saves time but also enjoys the experience. The rewards are motivating as habits are formed.

In finishing, Oduor emphasized one too important point; We all have a role to play in reducing the burden of NCDs. By just embracing physical activity, we have already taken a momentous step toward reversing the burden of chronic diseases. WE CAN DO THIS!

Here’s the link for the interview. It was done in the Swahili language so get your Google translator ready if you are not familiar with the language.

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    Well articulated

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