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A few years ago, meeting up with friends for colourful concoctions at the juice bar for lunch, joining a nearby dance class after work, meditating with a beautiful view of the sunset, going out for an evening walk, or seeking help of a professional for weight loss programs were the activities of a handful of people. In fact, some of these practices would have triggered a lot of mockery from the community; however, these are just a few of the amenities that are presently in high demand in our city.

A new lifestyle, healthy living in Addis

For most people healthy living is now a fundamental matter. It is no longer just a topic for the upper class or fitness enthusiasts value. Today Addis Ababans are choosing easy and inexpensive ways to a healthy living compared to costly medical care. With growing urbanization, economic progress, sedentary lifestyle and the influences from Western ways of life; diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer and cardiovascular related problems have become common. These are one of the prime reasons why people are on high alert and have become driven to stay healthy and fit.

“Through minor lifestyle changes and healthy living, quality as well as quantity can be added to life,” Birhanu Mekonen (MD), a physician and motivational speaker from Toronto, Canada, says. “Day-to-day physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption, no smoking and sufficient vegetable and fruit consumption; these four habits in combination can make a difference in life expectancy that range up to 10 years.” In addition to exercising and having a balanced diet, he also mentioned how regular medical examinations are needed for effective diagnoses of most diseases at an early stage.

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A lot of service providers are channelling their efforts on the healthy way of life and targeting consumers that fall into “middle class” group as opposed to limited “affluent” users.

An all rounded well-being and life excellence learning faculty, run by Khul Holistic Development Centre, is one of those amenities. According to Yoftahe Manyazewal, founder of Khul Holistic Development Centre, Khul is a place where behaviours leading to health and happiness are encouraged and cultivated. These behaviours are structured through experience sharing, meditation and exercises that lead to physical and mental well-being.

He went on to say that, “2/3 of our activities are free and open to anyone who is interested. Our prime programs include things like Community Services, where participants support and give back to the community through activities such as blood donations, Self-Engineering— program where experienced guest speakers share knowledge with participants (regarding the body and mind) backed with scientific methods, Shega talk— a platform where qualified thought leaders share development and growth experiences with participants. Furthermore, regular yoga and breathing classes, Zumba, Latin and Intuitive dance classes are conducted.”

Another wellness center by the name of Tulsi also gives services that focus on the whole being of individuals, gives consultations on lifestyle and prepares workshops for local and foreign trainers. They give out free yoga sessions once a week focusing on different styles. Regarding other services and their costs, its founder Deborah Lundstrom said: “Our payments are not very high, in fact most of our clients are university students, and those who cannot afford our programs can also get sponsored.” Deborah also mentioned the growing interest in yoga, meditation and healthy way of living in our city. “When I started four years ago, only expats and the diaspora community participated in our sessions, but presently around 98% percent of our customers are Ethiopians.”

Addis Ababa is no stranger to juice bars and green produce outlets. It is fair to say that every corner has at least one of these establishments running. Health conscious or not, these places are frequented by people of all ages and status. At Moyo’s Café, a café locally known for its lime green interior and health consciousness; healthy meals are not the only thing offered, but also a detox and body cleansing program that comes with a qualified dietician. “Clean eating starts from cooking,” Amira Abdulselam, Moyo’s Dietician, says. “At Moyo’s we are constantly trying to raise awareness about healthy eating, we have programs that are designed to flush toxins out of the body by replacing meals with vegetables and fruits for specific amount of days. We familiarize our clients with a balanced diet eating plan, we communicate in what way, when and how often their bodies need to cleanse so that the program is continued and self-sustained throughout their lives.”

“Several years ago, it would have been challenging to find places like this. When people had money to spend, they spent it on meat. Most still do, but times are changing. The irony is our country has a lot of delicious healthy food to offer,” Meron Tilahun, a customer at Moyo’s, says.

Surafel Walelign, a self-proclaimed physical trainer, coaches informal running groups at Meskel Square, Stadium area. He explained how exercising regularly and eating right can improve temperaments and enhance energy levels in addition to weight control and battling illnesses such as diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension. “Exercising, especially in groups, creates interactive relationships and builds a stronger sense of community.” He also emphasized the importance of rest and relaxation on quality of life. “I think the role of rest is something that has become underrated in our community. Not a lot of people get proper rest. The reason behind is work or school, stress or parties, movies or the internet. In this day and age, most people are not aware of the benefits proper rest contributes to a healthy lifestyle.

As holistic approaches toward health are gaining more attention and popularity, more people are starting to accept the ways of a healthy way of life. It seems like they are prepared to devote more time, energy and money on things that support healthy living.

Contributed by Senait Feseha

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