Saudi health Ministry launches 8,000 steps campaign

The campaign, #walk30, will last for four months. (SPA/File photo)
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Updated 26 January 2020

Saudi health Ministry launches 8,000 steps campaign

  • Aims to improve public health, boost life expectancy

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Health has launched a national walking campaign to promote exercise in the Kingdom.

The campaign, #walk30, will last for four months and is in its first stage.

The ministry’s director general of marketing and awareness, Anas Al-Hamid, said that many schools and universities were taking part in the campaign, and that there was an app to calculate the number of steps taken. There will also be an event in all Saudi regions to coincide with National Day for Walking, scheduled for March 5, he added.

A walking challenge was one of the campaign’s many activities, he said, with participants trying to walk no fewer than 8,000 steps. Winners would be rewarded at the end of the competition and those interested were encouraged to download the app and register. 

Certified personal trainer Atif Adnan Bashawri, who owns a fitness studio, told Arab News: “I deal with people on a daily basis and the most common question is ‘How can I increase my fitness level?’ One of the best pieces of advice I always give my clients is to walk for at least 25 to 30 minutes three times a week.”


• The walking campaign is part of the ministry’s goals to achieve targets in the Vision 2030 reform plan aimed at improving public health and boosting life expectancy from 74 to 80 years.

• The reform plan also seeks to increase the number of people exercising at least once a week from 13 percent of the population to 40 percent.

“Walking for only 30 minutes every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance. It can also reduce your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers. Also it is the easiest way to relieve stress.”

Bashawri thanked the ministry for paying attention to such an important matter, remarking that obesity was increasing among adults and children.

In its 2018 report about people who work out and exercise, the General Authority for Statistics revealed that 54.05 percent of people in the Kingdom walked and 21.49 percent used apps while exercising. The report also showed that 18.99 percent of Saudis aged 15 and above practiced sports while 13.88 percent of non-Saudis exercised.

Last April a health official in the Kingdom, Abdulrahman Al-Sheikh, said that 40 percent of Saudis were obese. 

Al-Sheikh, who is a diabetes and endocrinology consultant and chairman of the Saudi Society for Diabetes, told Arab News that there were 3.8 million diabetics in the country, representing almost 19 percent of the adult population, and that obesity was a major issue in Saudi society.

World leaders call for courage as virus death toll nears 70,000

Updated 06 April 2020

World leaders call for courage as virus death toll nears 70,000

  • Be strong, Pope Francis says
  • US faces ‘Pearl Harbor moment’

JEDDAH: World leaders urged people on Sunday to show courage and strength in fighting the coronavirus pandemic as the global death toll approached 70,000 from more than 1.25 million cases of infection.

Pope Francis described the outbreak as a tragedy, Queen Elizabeth of the UK offered her personal thanks to frontline health workers, and Americans were warned that they faced the “hardest and the saddest week” of their lives.

Saudi Arabia reported five more deaths from the virus, bringing the total to 34. The number of confirmed cases rose by 206 to 2,385, the highest among Gulf Arab states.

The Foreign Ministry will register requests this week from Saudis abroad who want to return home, with priority given to the elderly, pregnant women and people in countries most affected by the pandemic. Those who return are subject to a 14-day quarantine, and about 11,000 hotel rooms have been set aside for them.

The Health Ministry warned that too many people were ignoring advice to stay at home. “Unfortunately, there is still more than 40 percent mobility in shopping and outdoor activities. This is a very alarming percentage,”ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said.

“We are all in this boat together, and those who risk their own lives by going out for no urgent need are risking everybody else’s lives too.”

The six Gulf states have reported 6,757 cases of infection and 54 deaths from the coronavirus. The UAE, where 1,505 people have been infected and 10 have died, will increase its stockpile of strategic goods and waive residency visa fines for the rest of the year, said the prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

In Rome, on Palm Sunday, a Christian religious festival, Pope Francis celebrated mass by live stream with St.Peter’s Square empty of the usual huge crowds.

“Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each one of us: ‘Courage, open your heart to my love’,” he said.

Queen Elizabeth gave a rare special address to the British people, only the fourth in her 68-year reign. She praised frontline health workers and more than 750,000 people who volunteered to help the state-run National Health Service.

“I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge, and those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,” she said.

In the US, as the death toll approached 10,000, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said: “This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives … our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment.”