May 23, 2010

SINGAPORE: Tiny steps towards good health

SINGAPORE / The Straits Times / Mind Your Body / May 23, 2010

By Gloria Chandy

In three years, all senior citizens in Singapore need only head to a special centre in their constituency for help, advice and even company in their quest for more meaningful and healthier lives.

Some can do so already. A pilot project to test this initiative, the Wellness Programme, was launched in 12 constituencies two years ago.

Work is under way to equip all 84 constituencies with the same facilities.

It is a novel way to nudge older people towards ensuring their own well-being. There will be no excuses with help literally around the corner.

Most of us are pretty active in sports in our youth and get enough exercise while we are students and young working adults. However, we soon become distracted by the multiple demands of our daily lives - caring for our children and aged parents, trying to get ahead and staying on top of our game in our jobs.

But why wait till retirement to draw up your wellness road map? Start thinking about it only when you are in your 60s and it might just be too late to put things right. It will also be harder to ramp up and extract yourself from any inertia that may have set in.

Even if you have long given up on sports or keeping to a regular fitness regimen, you can benefit from the smallest efforts made on a daily basis.

Just the other day, a fellow commuter I knew "chided" me for heading to the end of the tracks at the MRT station. His argument? When we reach our destination, we'd be far away from the escalator and would therefore have a longer walk ahead of us.

I explained that I had no intention of taking the escalator and that my action was one of my tiny efforts to maintain good health. These include taking the stairs as often as possible, walking briskly always, eating out of need rather than greed and choosing water over carbonated drinks.

I find that all these can be easily achieved and they make me feel less guilty about not working out diligently. They also make me feel less lethargic.

This may seem insignificant to some people. But I am not bothered by what they think because I believe that tiny can add up to plenty. [rc]

Gloria Chandy

This article was first published in Mind Your Body, The Straits Times.