May 13, 2011

MALAYSIA: The energetic elderly show they can walk tall

KUALA LUMPUR / New Straits Times / StreetsJohor / May 13, 2011

By Syed Abdullah Syed Mohamed

Jit Singh (second from left) with colleagues posing before the start of the Walk For Health. — Pictures by Syed Abdullah Syed Mohamed

Programme marshall Ho Jiau Nian (left) guiding participants to walk on the right track along Jalan Mariamah. AGE was certainly not a factor as far as a group of senior citizens was concerned.

At the second Johor Baru Senior Citizens Association Walk for Health event held earlier this month, the oldest male and female participants were 97-year-old Heng Kok Kai and and 83-year-old Sharan Kaur.

The two were among the 180 who participated in a 3km walk covering Jalan Petrie 5/1, Jalan Mariamah, Jalan Kampong Jawa and back to the the association's building at Jalan Petrie where they started.

All completed the race in under an hour.

For being the oldest participants in the race, both Heng and Sharan each received an award from Pengkalan Rinting state assemblyman Chia Song Chen, who flagged off the race organised in conjunction with World Health Day.

Among other participants were those from the Spastic Children Association of Johor (JBSCA), Johor Baru Alzheimer's Disease Association, Johor Diabetic Association, State Welfare Council and students from neighbouring schools.

Also present was the organising committee chairman Soon Boon Keng.

Tour guide Jit Singh, 59, was clad in a white T-shirt and black track jogging pants.

The burly athlete arrived at the clubhouse with two other participants, businessman Tan Chee Chai 58, and retired government officer Swaran Singh, 60.

"I think it is going to be fun walking with participants of different ages and fitness conditions.

"Though a greenhorn, I enjoyed the positive environment at the club.

"I can mingle freely with the more senior members here. Most of them are affable and accommodating buddies," said Jit.

Former JBSCA deputy chairman Lee Siew Yang was in high spirits as he and his wheelchair-bound wife were about to commence the walk.

"My wife has been bedridden for the past five years as she is suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

"But that has not deterred her from participating in physical activities such as in today's walk," said the 81-year-old retiree as he lifted his wife's arm to gesture the 1Malaysia sign.

Retired school teacher Mohd Yusof Karto, who regularly walks around the Istana Gardens, appreciated the effort made by JBSCA.

"I completed the walk in less than 40 minutes with ease. I guess my consistent exercise at the gardens paid off," added the 73-year-old.

Soon thanked members and other invitees for participating in the walk.

He said the contest's main aim was to make its elderly members aware of the importance of exercise.

"Regular exercise can reduce the risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and heart disease," he said.

He also expressed gratitude to Chia who was always supportive of the club's activities and programmes.

Chia also commended the association for organising the walk.

"I am touched by the participation of so many senior citizens, especially those who are wheelchair-bound. I congratulate you all as you value your health," he said.

About 20 JBSCA members who completed a six-month computer course were also presented with certificates.

Abdul Rahman Abdullah, whose wife Hasnah Mohd Taat, 50, was one of those who received the certificates, said he would soon take up a computer class.

"I'm indebted to Soon and his team for encouraging her to become a computer-literate housewife," said Abdul Rahman.

All participants were given goodie bags comprising breakfast snacks, gifts and stickers with numbers to entitle them to participate in a lucky draw.

Copyright © 2011 The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad