Ja­maicans know work­out im­por­tant but most can’t fit it into sched­ules

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Na­dine Wil­son-Harris Staff Reporter

JA­MAICANS AL­MOST uni­ver­sally be­lieve in the value of phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity to their health and more than two-thirds of them say they reg­u­larly en­gage in some form of re­cre­ation.

Yet, across all age groups, peo­ple do not seem to be­lieve they are do­ing enough.

These are among the find­ings of a re­cent Gleaner-com­mis­sioned sur­vey of health care in Ja­maica.

The sur­vey re­sults, in ad­di­tion to the ap­par­ent will­ing­ness of Ja­maicans, with the right mo­ti­va­tion, to hit the walk­ing trails and run­ning tracks, are likely to be en­cour­ag­ing to Health Min­is­ter Dr Christo­pher Tufton.

Tufton, over the sum­mer, launched an ini­tia­tive to get peo­ple ex­er­cis­ing in or­der to com­bat the coun­try’s grow­ing epi­demic of non­com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases (NCDs).

“Many NCDs are di­rectly re­lated to phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity,” Tufton told par­lia­men­tar­i­ans in June.

“Twenty-one to 25 per cent of breast and colon can­cers; 27 per cent of di­a­betes; and 30 per cent of heart dis­eases are all di­rectly linked to the life­style of the pa­tient.”

The sur­vey, con­ducted in Septem­ber by poll­ster Bill Johnson, was com­mis­sioned by The

Gleaner with the sup­port of the Na­tional Health Fund. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple of 1,200 peo­ple aged 18 and over were in­ter­viewed.

The sur­vey found that 95 per cent of Ja­maicans agreed that ex­er­cise was im­por­tant to their health and it didn’t mat­ter their age or gen­der.

But when it came to the ac­tual busi­ness of ex­er­cise, there was a 26 per­cent­age-point gap be­tween those who ap­pre­ci­ated its value and the 69 per cent who said they were reg­u­lar ex­er­cis­ers.

Twenty-nine per cent said they didn’t en­gage in any ex­er­cise at all.

Men (77 per cent) are more likely than women (62 per cent) to ex­er­cise reg­u­larly, a fact that didn’t sur­prise nu­tri­tion­ist Dr Joy Cal­len­der.

“Times have changed,” Cal­len­der told The Gleaner.

“No longer are women at home with their pri­mary func­tion be­ing that of care­giv­ing and pre­par­ing meals. Now, they are in the work­place like the men, and ev­ery­body gets tired, and it goes down­hill from there.”

In­deed, when peo­ple were asked why they didn’t ex­er­cise, by far the great­est de­ter­rent (among 57 per cent in the cat­e­gory) was the lack of time, com­pared to 19 per cent who said they lacked mo­ti­va­tion and

18 per cent who com­plained of ill­ness or in­jury.

The time is­sue was com­mon among men and women and across all age groups, be­ing at its peak (65 per cent) in the 2534 age seg­ment, and only slightly lower (62 per cent) among those be­tween 35 and 44. Among older peo­ple, in­jury and ill­ness or the lack of mo­ti­va­tion were the main rea­sons for not ex­er­cis­ing.

While they may en­gage in mul­ti­ple ac­tiv­i­ties, walk­ing is the pre­ferred form of ex­er­cise for most (68 per cent) Ja­maicans, fol­lowed by run­ning/jog­ging at 26 per cent.

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