“Say to him: ‘Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours!” 1 Samuel 25:6

About six months ago, in this column, the penultimate paragraph was: “What is the purpose of life? In my ‘book’, it is to create happiness and avoid pain for oneself and all those within one’s sphere of influence. This is the ideal. In my experience, one will never make a perfect score because of the complexity of the human being manifested by one’s physical, intellectual, spiritual and emotional needs. I will provocatively state that the purpose of life is to accumulate wealth, but will hastily add that the real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money. We must therefore focus on holistic wealth, on the comprehensive development of the human being”.

One important element of holistic wealth is good health; it is the secret of long life. All those who missed last Thursday’s Twelfth Healthy Lifestyle Seminar mounted by The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados Inc. and sponsored by Sagicor General Insurance Inc., missed a treat.

The tone was set by the President, Mr. Dru Symmonds, who intimated that the foundation was deeply concerned regarding the heart health of our nation. He advised that the organization is particularly conscious of the effects of ill health to everyone involved in its productive sectors, and importantly so, its leaders who are so readily susceptible to the pitfalls of obesity and the natural occurrence of stress; two specific emphases embraced in the seminar.

Mr. Tony Marshall, long standing cricket administrator, pointed out that the team which wins ICC CWC 2007 is likely to be one that has paid special attention to its fitness regime. It was interesting to hear his opinion that sustained success in cricket was also highly correlated with intellectual capital. This is similar to the statistically upheld hypothesis that, among all the nations in the world, GDP per capita is highly correlated to tertiary educational output per capita, a measure of intellectual capital. He called for a National Day of Fitness, where all Barbadians would consciously participate in a physical fitness event.

In the discussion which ensued I drew the attention of the gathering to the evolution of Cricket Legends of Barbados Inc. This is a company the shareholders of which are the living retired Barbadian cricketers who have represented the West Indies at cricket. My vision is that there will be benefit in a strategic alliance between the Foundation and the Legends. This was corroborated in the feedback from the interactive discussion which followed Tony’s presentation.

Dr. Colin Alert, Family Physician and Associate Lecturer in Family Medicine, UWI made a very humourous presentation on Health and Physical Activity in Barbados. He observed that “We have more doctors and We are spending more money on health, but at the same time More people are dying and suffering”. We are a lazy (and licorish) nation and these habits are killing us. He added that there is little evidence that the Government is helping us, therefore each individual must accept a lifelong responsibility for keeping fit. He admonished us to immediately adopt an exercise plan.

Dr. Adrian Lorde Family Physician and Vice-President, Barbados Sports Medicine Association made a presentation on SKIPPING TO GET FIT ….QUICK. He pointed out that most persons complain that they have little time to exercise or to eat properly. Skipping, formerly practised by boxers and children in primary schools, is one way to obtain adequate exercise and gain tremendous benefits in a short time period. Ten minutes of skipping has the same health benefit as a 45 minute hard run.

Skipping is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise that requires little equipment

He advised on a warm up and cool down period. His session ended with a skipping competition which revealed an interesting mixture of style and efficiency among those who were brave enough to use the high-tech skipping ropes presented to each participant by Sagicor.

Professor Henry Fraser advised the gathering that Barbados leads the Caribbean in an epidemic that can only be described as “Slow motion mass suicide”. The epidemic is an epidemic of chronic non communicable diseases, sometimes known as the life style diseases – or the obesity related diseases. He concluded that there are many aspects to healthy living, but the most powerful mantra can be captured in four simple thoughts and eight words: Eat less, Exercise more, Laugh often, Forgive always. And the simple verse: Give before, Give after, Give more, Give laughter.

Prof. Trevor Hassell, President, Inter-American Heart Foundation gave the luncheon address on “Keeping fit and maintaining heart wellness – today, 2007 and beyond”. He posed the questions: “What do we know? What has been achieved? What are the further challenges? How do we tackle what else needs to be done? He gave a litany of good advice on The Way Forward to government, organizations, companies, NGOs, the H&SFB and the individual before concluding by quoting the German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do”.

Live like you love life, stay healthy!

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. –

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