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Stepping up

businesses intensify efforts to promote healthier choices amongst employees

It’s a step in the right direction – literally.

That’s how Chairman of the Walk the Talk – 10,000 Steps to Wellness programme, David Neilands, described the effort which is aimed at getting businesses more active in keeping their employees healthy.

Neilands, formerly of the local supermarket chain Super Centre, told media and health professionals at the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry where he is also a board member, that a lot of time was spent in Barbados talking about service and productivity but little was spent looking at the role of health in bringing this about.

Stating that the 10,000 Steps venture was not a competitive exercise between businesses, but one intended to challenge the employees to be more healthy, Neilands said the programme would officially start on April 1 for a period of three months.

Everyone involved would wear a pedometer to keep track of their steps, which would then be recorded by a designated person in the company, and the details kept and tabulated for the end of the programme.

Acknowledging that the effort was no guarantee of good health, he noted it was nevertheless the impetus for more health related activity by employees.

The island, he said, had a plight of health issues, especially relating to non-communicable diseases, which contributed to loss of hours and productivity by companies.

“We would like to believe this ‘Walk the Talk’ programme could continue throughout the year and beyond because this is not a fashion statement, this is a discussion about the health of our nation… We are in a significant plight at the moment and have been for a number of years with the incidents of non-communicable diseases.

“The statistics speak to the fact that about 63 per cent of world deaths are due to non-communicable diseases and in the Caribbean that figure moves to 77 per cent, of which some 43 per cent of that number are deaths that occur before the age of 70. Therefore one can say deaths of persons in their working years. It speaks to workplace wellness,” he noted.

The average person walked about 3,000 to 4,000 steps per day, and it only took a bit of effort to reach 10,000 steps per day, which was the aim of the campaign and added up to about a half-hour’s walk.

Currently the initiative is being led by the Barbados Chamber of Commerce, the Barbados Employers Confederation and the Small Business Association, but the three have thrown out the invitation to other non-member companies to come on board. (LB)

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