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Sports/physical Activity: A Programme For Development And Peace

By Anthony Ajegwu
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A healthy attitude is contagious, but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier. – Tom Stoppard.

Historically, research on the gains of sports/physical activity and health dates back to 1950s, and success in its scientific evidence occurred in 1980s. Also, research shows that taking part in sports, and spectating, have a positive impact on the well being and happiness of individuals.

The gains of sports for personal development and peace, and communal development and peace, cannot be over-emphasized. Positively and specifically the benefits of engaging in physical activity apparently leads to the prevention of several chronic diseases including cancer, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases and musculoskeletal conditions, and effectively mitigates anxiety, depression, emotional disturbance, psychological distress and obesity.

According to United Nations Office on Sports for Development and Peace (UNOSDP); sport as a tool for education, development and peace can promote cooperation, solidarity, tolerance, understanding, social inclusion and health at the local, national and international levels, and UNOSDP declared April 6 as a day set aside to recognize the potential of sport to contribute to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals. Additionally, the Day underlines that sports can foster peace and can contribute to an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding.

Sport helps to add value to human lives by contributing to the development of healthy bones, efficient heart and lung function, improved motor skills and cognitive function. It also helps to mitigate the effects of osteoporosis and prevents hip fractures among women. Irrespective of age, there is good evidence that being physically active can help us lead healthier lives. Additionally, physical activity helps to improve and enhance functional capacity among older people and maintain good quality of life and independence.The growth and development of the economy of a nation is largely hinged on the frequency of physical activities engaged by nationals or peoples of the country or nation, as we know that;a healthy nation makes a wealthy nation.

Economically, a good amount of money could be saved, and channeled into other important sectors of the economy if more Nigerians engage in physical activities, while the cost of treating people with diseases will be reduced, as corroborated by Anne Wilson Schaef who said – Good health is not something we can buy, however, it can be an extremely valuable savings account. Hence the cost to individual families and the nation of physical inactivity are high. It is pertinent to state that sports contribution and development is essential for the boosting of the national economy. Also sport employment is a crucial component of the economy, as the number of people with sport – related jobs is increasing

Socially, youths participation in physical activities improves their numeracy skills and a significant rise in other transferable skills. Physical activity programmes targeted at youths who are at risk of criminal behavior can enhance self-esteem and reduce re-offending. Sport is more and very effective in this programme as part of a wider development programmes. Sports programmes have the potential to strengthen social networks and community identity. Also people who are regularly active, even through moderate exercise will have lower mortality rates, than the least active and non-active.

Finally and politically, in the just concluded presidential election which Goodluck Jonathan lost to Muhammadu Buhari. He (Jonathan) displayed a good sportsmanship by letting peace reign when he conceded defeat to Buhari. And this is likened to an exhibition of sports for development and peace.

UNOSDP is therefore urging international organisations, regional and national sports organisations, civil societies including non-governmental and the private sector, and all other relevant stakeholders to cooperate, observe and raise awareness of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.

Anthony Ajegwu
Community Coordinator – Professionals for Humanity

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Anthony Ajegwu and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."