Practicing Sports Prevents Addictions, says the Ministry of Health in Mexico.
Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez, Mexico’s undersecretary for “Prevention and Health Promotion,” highlighted that regular engagement in sports or physical activities plays a crucial role in preventing drug use and safeguarding against addictions.
“Among these protective factors, a very important one is exercise, physical activity, involving the body in a systematic activity, not just a casual activity like walking or climbing stairs, but dedicating oneself to physical activity with discipline,” he said in a morning press conference with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
He elaborated on how individuals who engage in regular exercise experience a 46 percent reduction in the risk of drug dependence.
Furthermore, López-Gatell Ramírez highlighted various benefits of participating in sports, including the enhancement of physical well-being and cognitive abilities.
On a social level, sports contribute to the betterment of the community and foster stronger family bonds by promoting the principles of coexistence. This includes learning to recognize boundaries, developing tolerance for frustration, acknowledging the importance of others, and respecting the community and its members.
“It is very important because it strengthens communities against drug use to the extent that it helps socialization, (…) to bond with people in a healthy way, that is, from an activity that builds bodily capacity, but it also builds emotional and mental capacity,” he added.
Sport, he said, does not necessarily have to be professional or high-performance, “what is required is perseverance, involvement in sporting activity every day.”
Sport and physical activity help create and restore well-being spaces, promoting the rebuilding of the social fabric.
As per the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) estimates for 2022, 42 percent of the population engaged in some form of sport or physical exercise. Within this group, 7 out of 10 individuals cited health reasons as their motivation, as emphasized by the undersecretary.
Regarding exercise preferences, 66 percent of people preferred public places like parks, streets, public squares, and sports facilities, while 21 percent opted for private facilities, and 13 percent exercised at home.
In the context of addiction prevention, Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez revealed the close collaboration between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agrarian, Territorial, and Urban Development (Sedatu).
Sedatu is actively implementing the Urban Improvement Program, through which the Mexican government aims to reclaim community spaces and repurpose them for the betterment of local communities.
“They have played a fundamental role in preventing addictions, in achieving the installation of Clubs for Peace and proper socialization,” he asserted.
To date, over five million individuals have reaped the benefits of 918 sports facilities across the country, specifically designed for athletics, soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball, swimming, bike lanes, skateparks, boxing, as well as multipurpose courts in parks and plazas, said López-Gatell Ramírez.
“Public spaces are the social environment where we can have a healthy life, including the social prevention of addictions. For this reason, the National Strategy for the Prevention of Addictions, Together for Peace, is making great efforts to recover the public space,” he pointed out.
In terms of addiction care, López-Gatell Ramírez invited the population to contact the Life Line: 800-911-2000, which has a 24-hour service, 365 days a year.
Soledad Quartucci | Founder, Latina Republic
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