The Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) and Coca-Cola have launched a new prescription that is designed to get Malaysians moving in order to improve their well-being by inculcating more physical activity into their lives.
Known as “Move Malaysia”, it will take the fight against obesity in Malaysia to another level through three components – Exercise Prescription with Healthcare & Fitness Experts and Allied Health Community known as Exercise is Medicine (EIM), academia outreach to integrate exercise and community engagement through various programmes such as Sport For All and Movement is Happiness – that are designed to address lifestyle inactivity and also inculcate an element of exercise for therapy or prevention of chronic disease.
It was launched in Kuala Lumpur today by OCM President, Yang Amat Mulia Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja'afar; Move Malaysia President, Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato’ Dr M. Jegathesan; and Gill McLaren, General Manager, Singapore-Malaysia-Brunei Region of The Coca-Cola Company.
EIM is a global initiative spearheaded by the American College of Sports Medicine that focuses on the importance of physical activity and exercise in promoting health and preventing disease where health care providers such as physicians are trained to counsel patients on a healthy lifestyle in order to make physical activity and exercise a standard part of a global disease prevention and treatment.
“We would like to eventually see the health care and fitness community advocating physical activity and creating a broad awareness that exercise is, indeed, medicine to make a real difference in the lifestyle choices and as a prevention treatment to chronic diseases for their patients,” said Jegathesan.
The rationale behind EIM is that lifestyle behaviours, including poor diet and physical inactivity, are leading to higher rates of chronic disease and the way to counter that is through an increase in physical activity and exercise.
Studies by the World Health Organization’s show that after high blood pressure, tobacco use and high blood glucose, physical inactivity constitutes the fourth leading cause of death globally, attributing to about 3.3 million deaths per year.
*Worldwide, it is estimated that physical inactivity causes:
• 6% of the global burden of disease from coronary heart disease;
• 7% of Type II Diabetes; and
• 10% of breast and colon cancer cases.
Inactivity also causes 9% of premature mortality, or more than 5.3 million of the 57 million deaths that occurred worldwide in 2008. On the other hand, regular physical activity:
• reduces mortality and the risk of recurrent breast cancer by approximately 50%;
• reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease;
• lowers the risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer-specific specific mortality in adults with higher levels of muscle strength; and
• leads to higher academic performance in children and adults
Despite these health concerns of being physically inactive:
• More than half of U.S. adults (56%) do not meet the recommendations for sufficient physical activity set forth by the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans,
• U.S. adolescents and adults spend almost eight hours a day in sedentary behaviors, and
• As much as 36% of adults engaged in no leisure-time PA at all.
Coca-Cola was the first founding corporate partner of Exercise is Medicine – a global partnership dedicated to encouraging doctors and health care providers to prescribe exercise as medical treatment – and provides grant funding, foundational support and promotional help to the initiative, which now serves 34 countries and helps spread the word that being active can save lives.
The doctors under this initiative will be looking at how to use exercise as a form of medicine and will assess patient’s physical activity levels then provide them with an exercise prescription or referral to an accredited fitness trainer.
To date, 90 health professionals and 85 fitness professionals in Malaysia have already been trained in Exercise is Medicine, led by the Academy of Family Physicians of Malaysia.
“Efforts are already underway in Malaysia to create a system that will support health care providers to facilitate patient referral to health and fitness professionals for comprehensive exercise prescription,” added Jegathesan.
On the academia front, Move Malaysia has engaged with lecturers from UKM and Perdana University to lead the Research & Education component where medical academicians and students are exposed to the exercise prescription concept with discussions on how to include this knowledge into the medical curriculum to bring long term change.
Lecturers from other universities have also been invited to explore and share their views on how the concept of prescribing exercise can benefit medical academicians and students in the long term.
The third component – Sport for All – will see Malaysians being encouraged to get moving by working with community sports organizations to combat sedentary lifestyles by promoting exercise, which Coca-Cola will complement with its Movement is Happiness initiative that aims encourage daily movement as a way to achieve emotional wellbeing and happiness through fun ways.
Workshops and seminars have been conducted for community sports event organisers to explore ideas and share their views on how to organise successful events, which included the participation of NGOs, universities, business owners, equipment suppliers, venue owners and sports enthusiasts who wants to convert their passion into business especially those nearing retirement.
“Train the trainer” programmes have also been held to target the younger generation to get themselves involved in sporting activities and an objective of Move Malaysia is to educate and create awareness among them on the importance of physical activities.
Move Malaysia has also been working with sports enthusiasts to take on a role as sports event organizers in order to see more community sports events being organised.
Inactivity, obesity and diabetes are critical issues that need to be addressed in Malaysia as they are on an alarming upward trend and now, more than ever before, it is vital that government, business and civil society come together under programmes such as “Move Malaysia” and work towards building effective partnerships and solutions.
So Move Malaysia will also seek to encourage more Malaysians to increase their physical activity in order to strike a balance between diet and exercise, which is known as the ‘energy balance’ where the calories consumed when eating and drinking are matched against the calories expended through physical activity.
“Coca-Cola is committed to encouraging activity and we want to create opportunities for people to easily see how activity can be integrated into daily life through fun and play such as taking the kids to play in the park or kick a ball around with our friends which is what our Movement is Happiness initiative is all about,” said General Manager, Singapore-Malaysia-Brunei Region of The Coca-Cola Company, Gill McLaren.
“Coca-Cola as a founding partner to EIM globally, is committed to the belief that physical activity is integral in the prevention and treatments of diseases and should be regularly assessed and “treated” as part of all medical care,” added McLaren.
“With Malaysia now identified as having the highest rate of obesity in Asia, the arrival of Move Malaysia is indeed timely as an impetus to put us back on the track to good health through exercise by doing something as simple as just adding a strong dose of physical activity to our lifestyles to balance out our love for food,” said Tunku Tan Sri Imran.
OCM is a partner to Move Malaysia in line with the International Olympic Council’s (IOC) initiative in 2013 to ensure that sport activities can be pursued by all ages as part of our lifestyle to create healthier individuals.
Taking a leaf from the IOC’s informative book Get Moving! – The IOC’s Guide to Managing Sports for All Programmes, its local chapter OCM also began working with the Academy of Family Physicians of Malaysia to train doctors to give ‘exercise prescription’ and train more fitness professionals in the concept, which then received a US$250,000 grant from The Coca-Cola Company
OCM’s partnership has also allowed Move Malaysia to approach the national and state sports associations as well as sports enthusiasts, retired sportsmen and sportswomen to play a bigger role in producing future athletes through the "Sport for All" programme.
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