Sports Index shows increase in people here who take part in sport.
Singaporeans are healthier today
than 10 years ago because they
participate more actively in sport
and exercise more regularly.
Studies show that the number of
Singaporeans engaging in physical
activity at least once a week has
risen gradually over the last decade.
In the 2014 Sports Index from
Sport Singapore, the proportion of
respondents who fell under the “frequent”
(three or more times)
category was 38 per cent.
This was more than double the 16
per cent of respondents in the same
category in 2001, the year Sport
Singapore first began tracking
sport participation among citizens
and permanent residents.
Altogether, 72 per cent of the
2,975 respondents said they had
taken part in some kind of physical
activity over the last month at the
time they were interviewed.
Joseph Schooling’s gold-medal
triumph at the 2016 Rio Olympics
may have opened Singaporean eyes
to what is possible with swimming
and sport in general.
But one does not need to be at his
level to reap the benefits of physical
activity. What would be good is
to have his commitment to start an
exercise routine and stick to it.
“Any physical activity is better
than none,” said Mr Ray Loh, an
exercise physiologist at the Sports
and Medicine Clinic at Tan Tock
Seng Hospital (TTSH).
“For health benefits, you should do about 30 minutes of exercise at
least five times a week at moderate
intensity.” Moderate intensity is
defined as a noticeable increase in
breathing and heart rate.
Benefits from regular exercise
include having a lower risk of
chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes
and colon cancer, according
to the World Health Organisation.
There is evidence that people
who exercise more often and more
rigorously live longer, said Ms Ho
Jiaying, senior physiotherapist at
Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
For example, a 2006 American
study indicated that physically
inactive middle-aged women who
engaged in less than an hour of
exercise per week had a 52 per cent
increase in mortality, compared
with physically active women.
Middle-aged women (40-59
years old) who are married are the
most sedentary demographic here,
according to the Sports Index.
The most common excuse for not
exercising, given by 77 per cent of
sedentary respondents, was a lack
Walking topped the Sports
Index’s list of the most popular
activities, with almost 42 per cent
of respondents, but three-quarters
of them did so for less than the recommended 30 minutes at a time.
A 30-minute stroll is not likely to
be very beneficial either.
Physiotherapist Ray Loh said:
“The walking pace should be brisk
enough to apply mild stress to the
cardiovascular system in order to
The other popular activities included
outdoor jogging or running
(13.2 per cent), swimming (8.1 per
cent), badminton (3.8 per cent)
and dance sports (3.1 per cent),
which narrowly edged out football.
“These are all great whole-body
cardiovascular fitness exercises,”
said SGH senior physiotherapist
Khoo Shin Jiun. “They will help in
improving agility and flexibility,
muscle and bone strength, and
Ms Khoo added that walking and
swimming are best suited for those
with injuries or medical conditions,
as they are low-impact exercises.
There may be benefits in not
sticking to a single activity. “Many
people are too ambitious when
starting out and exercise at an intensity
that the body is not ready for,”
said Mr Loh. “It is good to engage in
different activities that require
different muscle groups, to prevent
over-use of any one group.”
Ms Khoo recommended doing
Sport Singapore’s Physical Activity
Readiness Questionnaire before
starting any new exercises, to see if
there is a need to consult a doctor
The questionnaire can be downloaded
from Sport Singapore’swebsite
A little commitment to sport and
exercise may not take you all the
way to the Olympic Games, but it
can take you a long way in life.