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Story | Community
9 February 2021

‘Exercise ticks every mental wellbeing box’ say experts as QF celebrates National Sport Day 2021

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‘Exercise ticks every mental wellbeing box’ say experts as QF celebrates National Sport Day 2021

Community gets active and inspired through online sessions focused on fitness, learning, and inclusivity

Just 10-15 minutes of exercise a day can put people on the path to protecting their mental wellbeing, health experts emphasized as Qatar Foundation celebrated National Sport Day in virtual form.

If you have an excess of stress in your life, you need to balance it out with pleasurable activities, and exercise is really good in this respect

Dr. Naomi Hynd

Online fitness classes, sessions that showcased ability-friendly sporting opportunities, and inspirational talks encouraged all members of Qatar’s community to embrace physical activity as the route to a healthy and happy lifestyle on the day when the nation celebrates the benefits and the joy of sport.

The activities hosted by Qatar Foundation (QF) enabled people across the country to get into the spirit of sport and exercise while observing COVID-19 health guidelines, and to boost their fitness while also learning about the value of living an active life from sports stars and experts.

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QF’s National Sport Day celebrations featured an array of online fitness activities.

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Professional instructors from Zulal Wellness Resort, Gymmito, F45, and T23 staged online workouts, with people also participating in a Muay Thai class with Hands of Stone and a yoga session with Vishnu Yoga, and QF’s Qatar Reads initiative teaming up with Olympic Stars and Warrior Fit to offer a gymnastic class and a bootcamp for children.

In a session focusing on how exercise and mental health are interconnected, Dr. Naomi Hynd, a consultant clinical psychiatrist at QF member Sidra Medicine, said: “There are many different factors that affect mental health, and exercise is certainly one of those.

“Exercise boosts our mood and releases the tension and worry in our body. If you have an excess of stress in your life, you need to balance it out with pleasurable activities, and exercise is really good in this respect. And with social isolation being a key predictor to mental health issues, exercising with others is a good way to meet people.

When we exercise, we move, we connect with others, we notice our surroundings and appreciate what we have around us, we learn new things that boost our confidence, and we provide a form of charity to ourselves

Dr. Zainab Imam

“But it’s important to set realistic targets with exercise – it doesn’t have to be a large amount of time. If you do 10-15 minutes of vigorous exercise each day, that is enough in terms of benefiting our mental health. It simply has to be something that is sustainable for you.”

Dr. Zainab Imam, a consultant adult and perinatal psychiatrist at Sidra Medicine, explained that exercise “ticks practically every aspect of mental wellbeing”, saying: “There are five ways to mental wellbeing – movement, connecting with others, taking notice, lifelong learning, and charity.

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Inspirational talks with sports stars and health experts also formed part of the day.

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“When we exercise, we move, we connect with others, we notice our surroundings and appreciate what we have around us, we learn new things that boost our confidence, and we provide a form of charity to ourselves by keeping fit and healthy.”

The more active a person is, the more endorphins are produced and the happier they are

Faysal Al Oshari

Sport and exercise’s crucial role in maintaining mental wellbeing were also highlighted by Faysal Al Oshari, a specialist at Qatar’s Behavioral Healthcare Center, who said: “The benefits of practicing sport are reflected in our mental health, producing a special hormone called endorphin, which is considered a pain killer but also gives a feeling of relief and happiness. The more active a person is, the more endorphins are produced and the happier they are.

“Sport can also help our sleep patterns as it supports the biological clock, in addition to suppressing negative emotions like stress, anger, and anxiety; and exercise can also enhance personal and social values such as self-respect, confidence, and discipline, as well as communication skills, through teamwork and achieving collective goals.”

QF’s National Sport Day talks, introduced by TV personality Khalid Al Jumaily, saw Qatari athlete Mariam Farid say that the annual celebration of sport, and Qatar’s hosting of major sporting events, has “motivated our society to see that sport is now part of our culture”.

And giving her advice to young women thinking about following in her sporting footsteps, she said: “You should be confident, believe in yourself, and work toward improving, changing, and growing as a person – love yourself, accept yourself, and go into society with a smile that says you won’t give up.

I hope to raise more awareness in Qatar of the importance of being more active and living a healthy lifestyle

Mariam Farid

“I hope to raise more awareness in Qatar of the importance of being more active and living a healthy lifestyle. I would support anyone to participate in sports, and to upcoming athletes, we have such a great opportunity through Qatar hosting the 2030 Asian Games, both to participate and to be part of our sports industry.”

Those who tuned in to QF’s National Sport Day celebrations also learned about balancing exercise, family, work, and social life from Reem Al Muftah, Head of Organizational Development at Aspetar; and how to overcome the challenges that lie along the road to sporting success from swimming star Nada Mohammed Wafa, who represented Qatar at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

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The virtual National Sport Day events organized by QF enabled people to stay active from their own homes

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Meanwhile, to mark the Qatar-USA 2021 Year of Culture, QF joined with Qatar Museums and the U.S. Embassy in Doha to offer sessions for both adults and children with leading US gym Dogpound, and online activities designed for those with mobility and hearing impairments and learning challenges together with the Best Buddies initiative.

And QF’s Ability-Friendly Program collaborated with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy’s Generation Amazing program, Accessible Qatar, and Clement Academy for inclusive demonstration sessions focusing on football, cricket, swimming, handcycling, wheelchair fencing, and archery.

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