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The high incidence of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCDs) is of great concern the world over, and the Government of Barbados, through the Ministry of Health, is committed to reducing the burden.

CNCDs, which include diabetes, hypertension, and cancer constitute the leading causes of death and illness on the island. They are caused by such biological factors as high blood pressure, obesity, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol.?? In turn, these are associated with lifestyle, socially determined risk factors, namely unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, life stresses and the harmful use of alcohol. Research has also shown that the lack of an environment that is supportive of healthy choices could also be a contributing factor.

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Consequently, the Ministry of Health is encouraging Barbadians to adopt a healthy lifestyle that involves proper nutrition, and making exercise a part of one’s daily regimen. There is the general consensus that the health of the nation’s people will facilitate socio-economic development, hence the maxim, the health of the region is the wealth of the region.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart recently said: "health is a critical aspect of the development of the people of the region, and expenditure in health is an investment in human capital."

Barbados’ participation in the United Nations Summit in New York, in September, was another testimony to the ongoing campaign to find solutions to combatting CNCDs. So far, this country has implemented a number of commitments since CARICOM states issued the 15-point Declaration of Port of Spain: Uniting to Stop the Epidemic of Chronic NCDs, in May 2010.

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In fact it has established the National Commission for CNCDs and continued to support the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, through the implementation of legislation prohibiting smoking in public places and the ban on the sale of tobacco to minors. The National Task Force on Physical Activity and Exercise has also been established; guidelines for healthy foods in schools have been introduced; and a more aggressive public education programme aimed at reminding persons to desist from using foods that are high in salt and sugar is ongoing.

It is against this background that once again, Caribbean Wellness Day was commemorated on September 10.?? Unfortunately, as a result of inclement weather, Barbadians could not celebrate the day with the annual Fitness Fair at Ilaro Court.?? However, they can now gear up for the popular event at that venue this Saturday, October 8.

Those persons living with CNCDs and attending the event are being reminded of some useful tips to follow prior to participating in the exercises.

Persons living with diabetes are advised to carry with them a snack in case they experience low blood pressure. Light headedness, black halos around objects, blurred or darkening vision and/or seeing ???sparks’ may be a sign of a hypoglycemic/low blood sugar reaction and will indicate that blood glucose levels should be checked immediately. Should the exertion cause pain in the extremities (for example, limbs), this should be discussed with a health care professional at the earliest opportunity.?? Individuals are also asked to wear the appropriate footwear.

Regarding another major CNCD, hypertension, persons with this condition should stay away from extreme temperatures since this may disturb circulation, cause difficulty in breathing, as well as cause chest pain.

Individuals not having any CNCDs are, however, reminded that there are still certain guidelines to pay attention to. Anyone engaging in an exercise session should ensure that this is preceded by a balanced meal two hours prior to any activity. The session should begin with a warm-up, as this prepares the body for intensive exercise by increasing the blood flow, breathing rate and muscle temperature.??

Finally, it is important that persons never underestimate an injury obtained while involved in physical exercise. If within the space of a week, the injury has shown no signs of repairing itself, individuals should visit their medical practitioner.


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