Chairperson of the Task Force and wife of Prime Minister David Thompson, Mara Thompson

A first step towards developing sports leaders and champions in communities came today as the National Task Force on Physical Activity and Exercise hosted its inaugural workshop, at the Pan-American Health Organization, Dayrells Road, for community fitness trainers.

Chairperson of the Task Force and wife of Prime Minister David Thompson, Mara Thompson, in addressing the start, told participants, "We have a golden opportunity to make a difference in the lives of all Barbadians, as we encourage and promote physical activity and exercise as a means of health and longevity.

"…You have been specially chosen as leaders and champions in your communities to make a difference by encouraging your colleagues to strive to make simple, yet effective lifestyle changes in their daily routine."

Pointing out that statistics showed 62 per cent to 64 per cent of the population as either overweight or obese, Ms. Thompson reminded those gathered that 20 to 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day could make a difference in preventing chronic disease, improving productivity at work and adding to a sense of wellbeing and happiness in our lives."

She also noted that a low level of physical activity was reported by 52 per cent of Barbadians; with females being less active than males.?? Mrs. Thompson opined, "I believe that we can do better, especially when you consider that exercise can be inexpensive, invigorating and most of all fun."

Member of the Task Force, Michael Small, in restating the mandate of the Task Force said: "It is hoped that by the end of our task more people will be motivated to get up; get active and get healthy. We realise this will not happen overnight; however, we are committed to trying to make people aware of the benefits of exercise.

Mr. Small explained that the sessions were designed to give participants knowledge that could be shared with others in the community and urged them to help dispel the notion of exercise as "arduous" and "expensive".?? He outlined that exercise could be done easily and cited working out to music, while cleaning the house and climbing stairs at home or work as two examples.

"We are looking to achieve at the end of the day a fitter [and] more productive society which can only benefit the country as a whole," maintained Mr. Small.??

The two-day workshop, which concludes tomorrow, includes elements on fitness, education and nutrition. It is designed to give practical tools to encourage safe and fulfilling exercise programmes in communities.

Facilitated largely by Task Force members, who come from diverse backgrounds, the sessions will address, among others, topics such as: "The Health Benefits of Exercise and Fitness"; "Ways of Avoiding Hazardous Exercises" and "Basic Nutrition".??jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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