A life of fitness pays off
October 2, 2009
A life of fitness pays off

For over 45 years, retiree Verrol Young has practiced healthy eating and regular exercise. On Saturday, September 12, Young demonstrated just how beneficial that lifestyle has been when he took part in physical activities at the Arnos Vale Sports Field to celebrate CARICOM Wellness Day.{{more}}

Spearheaded by the Ministry of Health, the nation celebrated with a week of activities – starting on Sunday, September 6, with a church service, and culminating with a walkathon and aerobics ‘blow-out’ on Saturday, September 12.

The 67-year-old was presented with a fruit and vegetable basket at the event for being the oldest male to complete the Wellness Day walkathon. Young, whose surname certainly befits his demeanour, told SEARCHLIGHT that he runs the Indigenous Fitness Club in Sandy Bay, and wants to encourage more people in St Vincent and the Grenadines to maintain healthy, active lifestyles.

“We have a lot of women at the gym, but I’d like to see more men involved, especially the younger ones,” he remarked. Young insisted that increased involvement in fitness could steer young men away from the more unsavoury activities that they often get caught up in.

Elphina Jeffers, 72, was the oldest female walker, and also received a fruit basket. The youngest walkers Nathan Charles, 2, and Dominique Hamilton, 8, were awarded similar prizes.

The walkathon began from three different points – Gibson Corner, Diamonds and the road leading to Mesopotamia – and saw participation from over 200 walkers.

At the event, Minister of Health Douglas Slater and Minister of Telecommunications Jerrol Thompson briefly addressed the gathering – encouraging them to make healthy eating and exercise a part of their daily routines.

In his remarks, Slater pointed out that CARICOM Wellness Day aims to highlight the prevalence of chronic, non-communicable diseases (such as cancer, respiratory diseases, diabetes and hypertension) and their detrimental effect on the development of Caribbean nations. Slater further noted that although HIV/AIDS is a serious threat in the region, the emphasis placed on knowledge and prevention of the disease far surpasses that placed on chronic, non-communicable diseases.

“We recognize that there are many other diseases that place a greater burden on the health of our nation… we found that there was more morbidity… due to a group of diseases than from HIV and AIDS. There is also more mortality!”

Slater extolled the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, including longer, better quality of life, and spending less on healthcare. He also explained that annually approximately $4 million of the healthcare budget is spent on medication and medical supplies – a figure that can be decreased if citizens maintain good health.

Thompson lamented that too many persons ignore their health, and fail to recognize that their well-being could impact positively on the economy. “As a healthier nation, we can do a lot more from an economic point of view,” he asserted.

At the event, activities included football, blood pressure and diabetes checks, body mass index checks, distribution of water and healthy snacks, and a grand finale of an aerobics ‘blowout’; where participants exercised until they could go no more.

The aerobics instructors included members of the Sports Department Samantha Lynch and Gary Constantine, and Shirlon Douglas, who teaches an evening fitness class.

Attendees at the event seemed energetic and jovial, despite the long walk in stifling hot weather to get to the venue. One participant, Caroline ‘CJ’ Jordan, walked from Gibson Corner with friends and announced that it was highly enjoyable. “I’ve got blisters on my feet but I had fun!” she chirped, as she munched on snacks that were handed out.

Other attendees included Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Mobilisation Rosita Snagg; Inspector Johnathan Nichols of the Royal SVG Police Force; Anglican Bishop Leopold Friday; VINLEC Chief Executive Officer Thornley Myers, and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Lanceford Weekes.

Chief Health Educator and Chairperson of the Wellness Committee Patsy Wyllie gave a vote of thanks, expressing gratitude to all those involved in organizing the event and the sponsors.

Upcoming events include a World Food Day Walkathon on October 10 and the Region 3 Agricultural Exhibition on October 16. The Ministry of Agriculture can be contacted for more information.