JIS News

The Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA) recently staged its third annual ‘Park and Walk’ event in Mandeville.
The event is geared at sensitizing the general public to the need to include physical activity in their daily routines, and to help persons to adopt practices, which will encourage better health.
On the day of the walk, residents of Manchester were encouraged to park their vehicles and walk, covering a specific route. The participants then converged at a designated point, where they benefited from free medical checks, and were given pointers on how to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
Heather Wood-Mullings, Regional Health Promotion Officer at SRHA, who co-ordinated the event, explained to JIS News that the activity is not only focused on drivers, but on all members of society.
“There is an increase of chronic lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and heart disease right across the island, and these are largely preventable,” she said, explaining that these diseases are called lifestyle illnesses because they depend to a great extent on the quality of one’s lifestyle.
Mrs. Wood-Mullings noted that a great deal of the medical expenses, which are incurred each year as a result of lifestyle illnesses, can be minimized if people made a conscious effort to maintain good health.
“Not only do drivers need to park their vehicles more often and walk but they need to incorporate other practices into their daily lives, which will result in better health,” she stated.
“If each person does physical activity in the form of exercise at least five times per week, and eats healthily, we should be able to prevent or control these illnesses,” she argued.
‘Park and Walk’ was conceptualized by Dr. Michael Coombs of SRHA, on his return to the island from an international health convention, and is being carried out in the three parishes that comprise the health region, which in addition to Manchester, entails St. Elizabeth and Clarendon.
A similar activity called ‘Lovers Leap Walk’ took place in St. Elizabeth on April 8, to mark World Health Day. This involved representatives of the St. Elizabeth Health Department and community persons walking to the historic site.
SRHA reports that the annual initiative is generally well supported by members of the public, schools and government agencies, including the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), Social Development Commission (SDC) and the parish council.
The organization is encouraging more Jamaicans to get involved, as proper lifestyle practice is “everybody’s business.”

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