Senior Medical Officer of Health (CNCDs), Dr.??Kenneth George, addressing the media at the launch of the National Task Force on Physical Activity and Exercise’s??first Get Moving Barbados event, to be held on March 13 at Ilaro Court. Looking on are fitness professional and member of the Task Force,??Kenneth Griffith, and Chairperson of the Task Force, Mara Thompson. (Image: C. Pitt)

Concerned about the level of Chronic Non-communicable Diseases (CNCDs) on the island, the Task Force on Physical Activity and Exercise is moving swiftly to get more persons involved in exercise.

This was revealed today as the Task Force launched its first event – "Get Moving Barbados Exercise Event" – at Ilaro Court.

Chairperson of that body and wife of Prime Minister David Thompson, Mara Thompson, in acknowledging Government’s concern about the number of people suffering from CNCDs, reiterated the fact that the Task Force’s aim was to see more people becoming physically active.

"We aim to get Barbadians active… Get people moving and hopefully combat the diseases," she said. ??Mrs. Thompson added that the event, to be staged at Ilaro Court on March 13, would also introduce different types of exercises "so people can come and… find out what sort of exercise they like and can do."

She gave the assurance that the emphasis on exercise would continue throughout the year, with a focus on the community.

Mrs. Thompson stressed: "It will be about finding what we might call Sporting Leaders in the community and getting them to work with any and every one who wants to exercise… Then, we will throw in activities or events along the way that our Sporting Leaders can bring their communities to and that the Task Force itself can be a part of and highlight and encourage more people to be a part of."

Senior Medical Officer of Health (CNCDs), Dr.?? Kenneth George, reiterating Mrs. Thompson’s sentiments, said: ??"It is about how Barbadians can make small and important healthy choices, particularly related to exercise."

He noted that 64 per cent of the adult population was overweight and that a recent Risk Factor Survey showed levels of exercise as "shocking," – with 45 per cent of males and 58 per cent of females involved in low degrees of physical activity. "By low physical activity we mean activity that does not lead to burning of calories, or activity that does not lead to physical conditioning; and, this is what we are trying to explain to the public to get people involved in exercise," the senior health official explained.

While noting the numerous benefits to be derived from an exercise programme, he underlined that in addition to preventing CNCDs, "it makes you feel better, prevent some cancers including colonic cancer and breast cancer; wards off cardiovascular disease; improves joint flexibility and gives you a sense of well-being."

The official, therefore, urged Barbadians to do their part and put an exercise routine into their daily schedule. Dr. George stated: "I’m not necessarily speaking of the little exercise you do at work, but we would like you to take a specific time out, particularly in your leisure time, where you can devote 20 to 30 minutes; three to five times a day, so that you can dedicate this to exercise. And, I think the weight loss aspect is important. For weight loss, persons may probably have to go up to at least about 40 to 50 minutes of exercise, three to five days a week.

He also maintained that the gains from the event would "go a long way" and called on the private and public sectors to come on board with the Task Force to "show their community spirit and to give of, and for Barbados."

Dr. George observed that, thus far a lot of sponsors had come on board and given of their time and funding. He added, "This is a historic event… to make their mark on a problem that is so important to us."??????

Meanwhile, member of the Task Force and fitness professional, Kenneth Griffith outlined some activities for both children and adults that would form part of the day. He said these would include traditional ones, such as hopscotch and Chinese skip as well as paddle ball/beach tennis, volley ball and line dancing. There would also be a walking trail inside and outside Ilaro Court, a gym area and a Boot Camp.

Mr. Griffith opined: "It is an initiative to get Barbados moving and involved in physical activity. That day is going to be fun [filled] because, we believe that exercise and fitness should be fun… people will do things that they enjoy and do them on a regular basis."

It was also noted that experts would be on hand to show individuals how to develop their own exercise programme for the future.

The Get Moving Barbados Exercise Event at Ilaro Court will run from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. Members of the public are invited to attend and "Get Up, Get Active and Get Healthy".

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