According to a WHO report, 1 out of 3 (36.5%) Singaporeans are considered physically inactive. At a glance that seems like a harmless figure, so why the fuss? Astoundingly, this actually places Singapore as the 3rd most physically inactive country in Southeast Asia, behind Malaysia (38.8%) and Philippines (37.9%).
What exactly is physical inactivity and its consequences?
As innocuous as “physical inactivity” sounds, its consequences can throw you off your chair. Physical inactivity the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, which has been identified to contribute to a staggering 6% of global deaths. The undisputed truth about leading a sedentary lifestyle is that it is simple unhealthy. Physical inactivity have been cited by multiple sources and research papers to increase the risk of chronic diseases and aliments, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
To even begin trying to remedy against it, you first have to understand what exactly “physical inactivity” is. Physically inactive individuals are defined as “doing no or very little physical activity at work, at home, for transport or in discretionary time”. However, do not misconstrue physical activity plainly as “exercise”. Being physically active is about making a conscious effort to include activities with bodily movement into multiple aspects of your daily life, at work or at play, thus making it a lifestyle.
Perk Me Up
Being physically active has numerous and far-reaching health benefits. The good news is that all it takes is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity a week. Breaking this up into bite-sized pieces, all it takes is about 20 mins of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every day.
The more you move, the more you lose
Needless to say, increasing physical activity can help burn off extra calories from that delicious char kway teow at lunch or the creamy mao shan wang from last night. Keeping physically active is a great way to manage and control your weight, and can also help you to get rid of excess fat.
Mind and Body
When you are physically active, your heart has to work harder to pump enough blood to your lung and muscles. This means that the regular exercise and conditioning gives both you and your heart a good workout. With a stronger and healthier heart, your blood circulation improves as a result. At the same time, increased physical activity also means your body gets its regular dose of endorphins – in other words your happy hormones. With that extra boost of oomph and energy, you will feel fresh, revitalized and invigorated everyday.
If the perks of leading an active lifestyle has not convinced you yet, studies have also shown that regular physical activity is proven to reduce the risk of:
- Certain types of cancer
- Cardiovascular diseases
Never too busy to exercise
One of the most common reasons you would hear for the lack of physical activity is our busy lifestyles. Indeed, Singaporeans have been reported to be among the hardest working in the world. More often than not, your daily life is heavily bogged down with work, child care and household chores among other tasks. So where can you find the extra time to exercise?
Sneaking in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise everyday is actually a walk in the park. Literally. As a matter of fact, it neither requires you to spend an hour figuring out the warrior pose during hatha yoga, nor 45 minutes sweating it out at a hardcore spin session. Although this can be a bit of a shocker, but a moderate-intensity exercise can be as simple as brisk walking. Yes, it is that simple! Thus, when life gives you lemons… you squeeze them to make lemonade. Other examples of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises are taking the stairs, mopping the floor and of course, hand squeezing lemons to make a refreshing lemonade.
To get you started on your physically active lifestyle, here are some simple tips and exercises you can try out.
Exercise at your Desk
Studies have shown that we are sitting down for too many hours a day. Although being a regular couch-loving potato at home contributes to this, most of it our sitting-hours are chalked up by sitting at our office desk. Taking this into consideration, by exercising at regular intervals while we are at work, completing 150 mins a week will be a breeze. Doing this set of exercise in the office will help to burn off 234 calories – a total 1638 calories if you do it for a week. That’s enough calories for 3 extra bowls of your favorite bak chor mee.
Stacy has been doing it right – standing up during the ride is not just only thoughtful, it is also great to clock some physical activity during the day. The best part? All done in the comfort of air-conditioned rides.
Take the Stairs
Skip the awkward lift conversations and opt for the stairs. Other than being a great way to stay active, this can also help tone up your legs at the same time.
Park Further Away
It is always difficult to get a good parking spot near the exit. Well, now you opt for the frequently empty lots furthest echelons of the car park. Parking has never been so fast and easy, what’s more, you score a light workout at the same time.
Take Part in the National Step Challenge
The National Step Challenge (NSC) is into its 4th season, and it has taken Singapore by storm, successfully motivating the nation to be physically active with a simple motto: taking 10,000 steps a day. Besides getting a free glossy step tracker, you can also get a Completer’s Kit, win prizes and a get physically active! What’s not to like about it?
Although the NSC period has ended for this season, keep your eyes peeled on their website for the next installment.
Lock and Loaded
Ideally you should get up from sitting every hour. A useful tip is to set an alarm to remind yourself to take a short breaks at intervals before diving into your project. Finally, now that you are more aware of the importance of physical activity, it is time make a conscious effort to get up on our feet more often.
Physical Activity in Prevention of the Most Frequent Chronic Diseases
Post Graduate Medical Journal | Osteoporosis & Exercise
WHO|Prevalence of Insufficient Physical Activity Among Adults – Data by Country
CNA|Breaking Singapore’s Workaholic Culture
Medical News Today|What Are The Consequences of A Sedentary Lifestyle
Health Hub| Aim for 150 Minutes of Physical Activity Every Week