The health ministry initiative is to promote a healthy lifestyle among the people

Fitness: The six open-air gymnasiums, which the health ministry announced to open in the capital to promote a healthy lifestyle, are planned to be in place by March this year.

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk had announced last November that the ministry, with support from the World Health Organisation (WHO), would open six open-air gymnasiums in the city.

Health officials said the outdoor gym equipment is expected to reach the country by the end of this month, and that they have meanwhile identified the venues for these gymnasiums.

According to non-communicable diseases division’s officials, they are planning to set up two gyms in the Motithang area, one near the royal institute for tourism and hospitality, and the other near the takin preserve.

Two gyms would be set up in Kuenselphodrang, while one each will be opened at the Centenary children’s park and the Thai pavilion.

The health minister had earlier announced that the gymnasiums would be established to commemorate the Fourth King’s 60th birth anniversary.  The gyms would be for those who are unable to afford gym membership in the city.

“We have parks for children, but the city lacks such facilities for adults,”

a health official said.

The health ministry also clarified that the outdoor gym that was opened on December 17 last year near the synthetic tracks at Lungtenzampa was an initiative of the Bhutan Olympic Committee’s president, HRH Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, and not the health ministry’s.

Health officials said the WHO regional office in Delhi is providing the equipment worth about USD 100,000 and that facilities would be set up when the equipment are delivered.

While making outdoor sports facility accessible to adults may be one of the main reasons for the initiative, a STEPS survey on non-communicable diseases’ risk factors in Bhutan, 2014, has found that Bhutanese are becoming unhealthy by the day.

Among adults between 18-69 years, the survey found that 40 percent of women and 27 percent of men are overweight or obese in the country today. It showed that 6.4 percent of the population of which 9.6 percent are females, get insufficient physical activity.


By Sonam Pelden