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VOICES Bi-Monthly Magazine of the University of Technology, Jamaica |

April 2017



ccording to the WHO, physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause

of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes

and cardiovascular disease. Assuming an individual does not abuse

alcohol, smoke tobacco and eats well, chances are they can significantly

reduce the risk for a NCD by being physically active. Physical activity simply

means utilizing adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to engage the musculoskeletal

system to produce a movement. Despite the fact that the health benefits

of physical activity have been long established and are indeed inarguable

many people still posit numerous reasons for not engaging in such activities.

Informal discussions with staff members reveal that many people do not

exercise because, among other things, they perceive they do not have any

time, the exercise is boring, they cannot afford the gym or they have joint


A 2011 World Economic Forum publication indicated that Jamaica’s

economic output is expected to be reduced by approximately US$17 billion

over the next 15 years. Additionally, the Ministry of Health has indicated

that treating NCDs results in significant out-of-pocket expenditure (1). The

average gym in Jamaica costs between 6000-7000/ month. Abdulkadri

et. al., estimated that the cost of treating diabetes in 2001 was US$ 221

million and represented 2.66% of Jamaic’s GDP (2). This cost represents

about 35% of the contribution of agriculture to the Jamaican economy. So

let us do the math. According to Zhang et. al., approximately US$1330 is

spent per person per year for diabetes care (3).

A gym membership on the other hand costs approximately US$651 per year

(assuming an exchange rate of US$1 = J$129). This means the excuse of

not being able to afford it means we are foregoing tomorrow’s health to

hold on to insignificant savings today. What we truly cannot afford is the

economic burden NCDs place on the Jamaican economy.

We therefore need to get moving. Below are simple tips that do not require

a gym membership, is easy on the joints and results in the production of

mood elevating endorphins. The first thing you need to do is get good shoes

– whether low impact or high impact – our feet bear the brunt of our activity

and so we must ensure that they are adequately protected to reduce the

occurrence of bunions, stress fractures and plantar fascitis. Next, turn up

the music and enjoy whatever elevates you –whether that is Kirk Franklin or

Beenie Man. Research by Nayak et. al has shown that music has the ability

to enhance mood and consequently aid in rehabilitation. Therefore, in order

to get moving and keep moving it is advantageous to set the mood. This

has the potential to reduce the feelings of disinterest and boredom some

may associate with exercise.

Finally, just start moving. If you are just starting out, are overweight or have

an injury then go slow. Simply walking at a pace at which you can maintain

a conversation is adequate. Invest in a treadmill or stationary bike and walk

or ride while you watch the news - the time will speed by. If you cannot

afford the bike or treadmill, get up and walk around your house during each

commercial break. I challenge you therefore to take one small step (a few

actually) towards a healthier you. It could save your life (and your bank


Dr. Kamilah Hylton is the Dean of the Faculty of Science and Sport,

UTech, Jamaica

Moving towards better health:

prevention is better (and cheaper) than cure

By Kamilah Hylton

Faculty of The Built Environment Awards Top Students

Student of the Year Awardees:

From left, Caribbean School of Architecture (CSA) Student of the Year Miss Jenique Yearwood accepts the E. Nadine Isaacs Architect

Limited Award from Dr. Garfield Young, Dean, Faculty of The Built Environment and at right Leroy Rowe, Student of the Year, School of Building and Land Management

(SBLM) and Dean’s List Awardee is presented with the Jentech Award.