KARACHI: Weight loss training programmes have emerged as a lucrative business where appealing packages ranging from Rs5,000 to Rs25,000 are introduced, targeting the overweight segment of society, specifically females, which resultantly make them prone to joint pains and ailments related to the kidneys and heart.
In a survey conducted by Express News, nutritionists, trainers and health experts said that in the past 40 years, obesity has increased six fold, while a demographic survey conducted in 2013 shows that obesity affects 40 per cent females and 23 per cent males.
Obesity can affect one's confidence and also poses employment and matrimonial issues such as rejection from jobs and marriage proposals and an inability to 'fit' in the latest fashion trends, which is added mental strain on these women. Fitness centres, with their active social media presence, exploit these psychological issues for marketing purposes.
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These centres usually lack qualified instructors. There are specific exercises for each gender and age group, but contradictory practices at gyms adversely affects the health of both genders. "The strenuous exercises increase palpitations and make women more vulnerable to obesity, joint pains, heart and kidney diseases," said Professor Dr Javed from the Aga Khan University (AKU).
Dietary supplements and various steroids containing herbal ingredients for physical strength are available in the form of injections, tablets and capsules in the market, which weaken the body, cause early aging effects, kidney diseases and sweaty hands. Saima, a prey to their practice, went to a gym where the vigorous exercises instead of helping her shed any weight, added 15 kilograms and serious joints pain.
Another victim, Sadia, said that she was lured in a 45-day challenge and joined a gym. The strenuous exercises and strict diet helped her to lose some weight but produced other health issues afterwards. "I could not the join gym due to household responsibilities but now I have realised that a healthy diet, regular walking and light exercise are sufficient for weight loss. The gyms are there only to make money so I left the fitness centre and since then have been exercising at home, which has proved to be quite effective,'' she said.
A Malaysia-certified trainer Shahzeb Khan mentioned that it is important to have qualified trainers at the gym. "As soon as you stop using weight training machines, symptoms of early-aging and physical weakness start emerging. The more effortlessly you lose weight, the more readily you put it on too," said the trainer, adding that shedding off weight depends 90 per cent on diet and 10 per cent on physical exercise.
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Exercise should not be confined to weight loss alone, weight training should also be done for maintaining physical fitness. "Women tend to avoid walks and exercises and rely on household chores to remain fit," said Saima Rasheed, a nutrition expert. "Unbalanced diet and junk food makes pregnant women gain weight but they tend to attribute C-sections as the cause for their size, which is not the case," she added.
Access to wrong information on the internet, frozen foods readily available in the market and overconsumption of chicken carrying testosterone hormones are also contributing factors for being overweight. Avoiding fizzy drinks, taking food in small portions and a regular intake of fresh fruits and vegetables are a smart choice for an overall healthy lifestyle.