Writer: Firhaana Bulbulia
The final edition of the Barbados Association of Muslim Ladies M-Series lectures took place on Sunday, 3rd November 2019 at the Usain Bolt Complex. Under the theme “Mindful Movement: Positive thoughts and fitness= Healthy Mind and Body” the session focused on nutrition, exercise and healthy lifestyle choices.
To begin, Khadija Patel, an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, energized the group with a series of exercises that got both hearts and minds pumping! Taking the group through breathing techniques, simple at-home exercises and modified versions of exercises for those who had specific physical challenges, Khadija created an encouraging atmosphere for persons to be inspired to get fit!
In a more discussion-oriented segment, The Heart and Stroke Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to keeping people heart healthy and living healthy lifestyles shared information on the Childhood Obesity Prevention Programme, Switch it Up Campaign and Heart Health. Programme Manager, Francine Charles began sharing the alarming figures associated with non-communicable diseases in Barbados.
“The real enemy we are fighting on non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart conditions, cancers, hypertension and women are particularly vulnerable”.
In sharing the facts, she these staggering figures for Barbados:
· NCDs are responsible for 8 out of 10 Deaths
· 31% of children are considered obese or overweight
· Direct and indirect economic cost of NCDs is over $209 million BDS annually.
· 17 new cases cancer are diagnosed each week
· 9 heart attacks are registered per week
· 15 stroke events in a week
In her plight to encourage persons to make more healthy choices for themselves and their children, she shared that the switch-it up campaign encouraged parents to prepare healthier meals for their children by “switching it up”
“Junk food and soft drinks have no nutritional value for children and are causing major health challenges in children, as well as early onset of NCDs in adults”
She further advised to be cautious of the labels that say “no added sugar”- as the product may have other types of sweeteners which can have similar or worst effects on health.
Discussions became vibrant, as attendees debated the practices of parents and children, and choices in snacks- with the audience agreeing that we have to take as much interest in ensuring we eat healthy as we do with eating halal.
Dr. Dawn Scantelbury then took the reins to share information on heart health in her presentation titled “Change Just One Thing”. She described the heart as a home that needed to be taken care of and that symptoms of heart failure included shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of the feet and difficulty lying flat at night. She also pointed out that for women, it is useful to know that women don’t often get the “Hollywood heart attacks” where persons experience chest pain. For women, heart attacks can present itself differently as compared to men. For women, symptoms of a heart attack more often include shortness of breath, nausea, sweating and vomiting.
To maintain a healthy heart, she offered “Life’s Simple 7” which are:
· Manage blood pressure
· Control cholesterol
· Reduce Blood sugar
· Get active
· Eat better
· Lose weight
· Stop smoking
She ended by echoing the message from her colleague, for persons to embrace healthier eating habits by ensuring they eat real food, not too much and mostly plants. As well as to move more!
“Make a promise to change one thing- to improve your heart health- eat better, move more, live longer.”
To conclude our session, Jasmine Evelyn, Physiotherapist and Yoga instructor at Mindful Movement, took the group through practical yoga exercises that could be done within the comfort of home. Focusing on exercises that stretches the spine, improves balance and enhances mindfulness- without a doubt the session left participants feeling a sense of calm.
One 15 year old student of Combermere School, Aasiyah Patel shared,
“I really enjoyed the yoga session because it was calming and relaxed my body helping me to clear my mind- I have CXCs coming up and this will be a stressful time so I feel that yoga will help me during this period”.
Another participant, Sakina Mayat also shared her thoughts on the seminar,
“I genuinely really enjoyed the event, it was all very informative and I learnt new things. I very much enjoyed the workout, I also enjoyed the information about diabetes and obesity, it was explained very well, and it made me think about implementing changes into mine and my family’s lifestyle. I personally think everybody in Barbados should know about the effects and the risks of having too much sugar intake on a daily basis. Thank you to the BAML team for making an effort, lots of hard-work and planning to make these events happen, looking forward to next year’s seminars already”