A University of the West Indies (UWI) official Tuesday expressed shock and alarm over the results of a recent study, which measured the physical activity of Barbadians between the ages of 25 and 54 years old.
The research found that 90 per cent of women did not engage in sufficient physical activity, lecturer at the Chronic Disease Research Centre (CDRC) Christina Howitt said in revealing the major findings of the one-week study, conducted back in 2013.
Equally disconcerting was the fact that only 20 per cent knew it, while the remaining 70 per cent “thought they are doing just fine”, Howitt said.
“This is terrible. Nine out of ten women not getting enough activity is pretty shocking. And compared to other populations, these are really high levels. We have to do something about this,” she stressed.
Delivering a presentation at a World Town Planning Day symposium at the Courtyard by Marriott Tuesday morning, the UWI lecturer also revealed that Barbadian men did not fare much better, with 60 per cent of them failing to get the required amount of physical activity, yet only in ten was aware of it.
“So five out of ten Bajan men are inactive, but they think they are doing just fine,” she said.
Addressing the theme, Spatial Planning –– Improving the Nation’s Health and Wellness, Howitt warned against the dangers of interpreting the research to mean men were doing well.
“I have to say that six out of ten men not getting enough activity is still a major health problem. And we know that men tend to die more from chronic diseases than women”.
With the island currently recording about ten strokes per week, high rates of hypertension and diabetes, and record numbers of amputations, Howitt recommended the World Health Organization prescribed minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
This, she said, would help reduce the risk of developing non-communicable diseases.
The public health official said the research also found that only one in every four Barbadians had done any form of physical activity a month before the study, and that walking and gardening were the main forms of physical exercise in which both men and women engaged.
However, when it came to recreation men were twice as active as women, who tended not to do any sporting activity, except aerobics.
Howitt prescribed more walking and a greater number of community-based events as a means of getting a handle on the situation, adding that public health and urban planning officials needed to collaborate to create more accessible, pedestrian-friendly and interconnected environments that encourage physical activity.
The university official said the CDRC intended to conduct detailed research within the next six months on the effects of the environment on health.
“Our very initial ideas are that we want to profile some neighbourhoods, we want to measure known health related outcomes and known environmental determinants of health and see how well we are doing. We also want to identify unique local features that might be associated with physical activities and health. We also want to identify potential barriers and opportunities to be active,” she said.