At the opening, the health minister urged the community to use and take care of the facility

NCD: With the opening of an open-air gym at Changjiji, the colony now has a complete set of facilities for all age groups.

To promote healthy lifestyle and help address the rising non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the city, the health ministry in collaboration with National Housing Development Corporation (NHDC) and financial support from the World Health Organisation (WHO), launched the first of its six open-air gyms at the Changjiji children’s park yesterday.

The colony already has a children’s park, a prayer wheel for the elderly, and the 21 gym equipment, on which about Nu 6.8M (million) has been spent is expected to keep the Changjiji community both mentally and physically fit.  There are 745 flats at the NHDC colony in Changjiji, where some 10,000 people reside.

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk, at the inaugural yesterday, said five more open-air gyms would be set up in various parts of the city to commemorate the Fourth King’s 60th birth anniversary. “With very few people involved in physical activities, NCDs have been on the rise every year,” lyonpo said. “We’ve inherited the diet, which our grandparents followed, and one which is no longer healthy.”

The open-air gym, lyonpo said, should be utlilised well by all in Changjiji colony, irrespective of their age. “The equipment is of good quality and you all should make use of it,” lyonpo told the gathering.

Lyonpo also expressed safety concerns and emphasised the need to take care of the gym equipment. “There’s a need to take care of this, so that miscreants do not destroy them and sell it as scrap, which is quite possible,” he said.

The 2014 STEPS survey on NCD risk factors in Bhutan states that Bhutanese are becoming unhealthy by the day.  The survey found that 40 percent of women and 27 percent of men between 18-69 years were overweight or obese in the country today.  It showed that 6.4 percent of the population, (9.6 percent of females) get insufficient physical activity.

The chairman of Changjiji community said that people of the colony are lucky to have all facilities, like a basic health unity, library, theatre, and a community police centre and now the open-air gym. “In the past, the area was considered unsafe but not anymore,” he said. “Many residents indulge in physical exercise every day, so the gym will further help them stay in good health.”

With further support from WHO, the health ministry will set up two open air gyms at Kuenselphodrang and one each in Sangaygang, the centenary children’s park and the Thai pavilion.

By Kinga Dema