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January 14th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) While it’s certainly no secret that exercise leads to better health, remarkably few Costa Ricans report participating in any sort of exercise or sports.
According to a recent survey carried out by the Statistics School at the University of Costa Rica, 60% of Costa Ricans stated that they do not engage in any type of physical activity.
According to Manuel Guzman, a trainer for the Costa Rican Institute for Sports and Recreation (ICODER), part of the problem is a lack of culture of exercise in the country.
Guzman said that Costa Rica “is not an athletic country.” He also said that while there as been a recent boom in the numbers of gyms and fitness centers in the country, he believes Costa Rica “is late,” saying that the fitness trend began in other countries in the 1980’s. He also pointed to the fact that the majority of gyms are in Costa Rica’s larger cities. He said that while ICODER makes significant effort to bring recreational programs and competitive sports to the country’s rural areas, “we cannot deny that the rural areas are still underdeveloped and lack infrastructure.”
Allan Soto, a doctor specialized in bone densitometry, said that a sedentary lifestyle is one of the main risk factors in developing many illnesses.
“It can cause development of illnesses such as diabetes, obesity- which is a worldwide epidemic- heart diseases, cholesterol problems, problems with blood circulation, especially in lower limbs, chronic back and knee pain…A sedentary lifestyle can cause many problems such as osteoarthritis […] and it can even cause sleeping disorders,” said Soto.
The UCR study revealed that of the 849 respondents, only 12% practice some sort of exercise once per week, 11% twice per week, 7.2% said they exercise 3 times per week and only 2.1% four times per week.
“Exercising once a week does nothing. On the contrary, it may be a risk for a heart problem. It is recommended to exercise 3 times per week, for a minimum 40-60 minutes, so that the person can obtain benefit from the exercise,” said Soto.
According to Soto, before carrying out physical activity, it is important to have a medical check-up.
Sedentary lifestyles have turned Costa Rica into a country with a significant level of obesity. In 2011 alone, the Costa Rican Social Security System (CCSS or “Caja”) spent 65 billion colons (about $130 million) treating patients for obesity-related illness. According to the CCSS, 60% of adults and 20% of children in Costa Rica are overweight.