Cedric Mboyisa and Agiza Hlongwane

The young and old from Appplesbosch braved the scorching sun to witness the official opening of the outdoor gym sponsored by the South African Sugar Association (SASA) as part of its partnership with the Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal.

Above: Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo putting the community members through their paces.

The opening ceremony was attended by Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo and SASA Chairman Suresh Naidoo. “As one of our contribution to the fight against obesity, we have – together with the Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal – embarked on this campaign of building outdoor gyms for communities where the sugar industry operates. The fight against obesity and being overweight needs all hands on deck. As South African Sugar Association, we have a longstanding and proud history of advocating, advancing and promoting healthy lifestyles through exercising and adhering to proper diet,” said Naidoo.

Dr Dhlomo called on the community to adopt healthy lifestyles and get into the habit of physical exercise in order to keep non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and high blood pressure at bay. “A healthy lifestyle is a way of living that lowers the risk of being seriously ill or dying early. Not all diseases are preventable, but a large proportion of deaths, particularly those from coronary heart disease and lung cancer, can be avoided. Scientific studies have identified certain types of behaviour that contribute to the development of non-communicable diseases and early death. Health is not just about avoiding disease. It is also about physical, mental and social wellbeing. When a healthy lifestyle is adopted, a more positive role model is provided for other people in the family, particularly children,” said Dr Dhlomo.

Above: SASA International Affairs Manager Babongile Mandela, Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo and Umshwathi Mayor Siphindile Mbhele.

A fitness fanatic, Dr Dhlomo put community members through their paces with some fancy exercise moves. Sweating youngsters and senior citizens had a blast in the blazing sun as they enthusiastically tried to keep up with the MEC who set the makeshift stage on fire. Learners and other people could already be seen utilising the outdoor gym in their numbers.

Said Naidoo: “As SASA, we want to see everyone, from children to adults, using this gym to keep healthy and fit. This is not just here to decorate this place… community members must come out in their numbers to take advantage of this gym equipment. Exercising must become an indispensable part of your lifestyle. Take ownership of it and protect it from vandalism – it is yours and guard it jealously!”

He gave the community a challenge – in ten months’ time they must show SASA irrefutable evidence that the gym had improved their health or lives and they would receive a surprise reward!