Exercise is the main medicine needed to fight the scourge of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Barbados and the wider Eastern Caribbean, in addition to good nutrition.
While speaking on Saturday, the day dedicated to celebrating World Obesity Day, medical practitioners recommended how exercise should be used in patient care.
The Exercise is Medicine Initiative is a global movement by the American College of Sports Medicine, which was used to assess physical activity as a vital sign.
Speaking during the relaunch of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) ceremony over the weekend and the Exercise is Medicine presentation, Sports Physician and past President of the Barbados Sports Medicine Association Dr Rene Best encouraged doctors to use exercise as a vital sign similar to how they would check a patients’ heart rate or oxygen blood levels
“Physical activity is a vital sign and you should be documenting that. You should write that this person is getting 250 minutes per week of physical activity. That is the sign to show us that there is something to treat because if that number is zero in writing, you will interview them and try to change it,” he said, adding that it is not a difficult process.
He said inactivity was the one true pandemic before COVID-19.
“From 2012 the pandemic was physical inactivity and it is still going on and affecting us today and probably getting even worse,” he said.
Meanwhile Medical Practitioner Dr Kristyn Kirton shared that their recommendation to physicians is to follow the BRIEF system – an acronym for Baseline activity, Readiness for Change and Risk of participation, Intervention for the individual, Exercise prescription or Expert referral and F for Follow Up.
Baseline activity is to attain the vital sign of exercise to see how much the individual is doing.
“If they are doing nothing we need to use this visit to introduce the idea of exercise and if they are doing something we need to encourage them to keep doing so.”
As for Readiness for change and Risk of participation Dr Kirton said that the physician must look to see how ready the patient is to change.
She also encouraged physicans to intervene in monitoring the individual as a part of the BRIEF process.
As for Exercise Prescription or Expert Referral she said that this is all about the FIT principle, which is about Frequency, Intensity, Timing and Type. The frequency principle is how often a person will exercise, how difficult and when they should exercise and the variation of exercise that they should perform.
She also had this bit of advice for physicians:
“Like any other drug, remember to start low, go slow, stay within your limits, go with the patient and physician because if you know you can’t do a squat don’t advise them to do so unless you’re giving them a printout online or referring them to someone who can,” she said.
Also presenting were physiotherapists Sheldon Batemen and Marita Marshall who spoke on “Steps to Positive Systematic Change United Healthcare.”
“We have a big problem in the Caribbean and Barbados starting with our children – one in three children between the ages of 13 and 15 are obese. That speaks volumes. That should tell us a lot. That should shake us up. We need to do something and we need to do something fast,” she said.
While referencing statistics, which indicate that the English speaking Caribbean has the highest prevalence of diabetes, she said that systems must be put in place to do something about the climbing rates. (MR)