HealthXchange is proud to feature ‘The Sporting Doctor’, a segment which features SingHealth clinicians keeping fit doing what they love. We hope that they inspire you to get active as well, and maybe your can learn some tips and tricks on how to get better at the sport you are interested in!

Professor Ian Yeo (Running)

HealthXchange: Good morning Prof Ian! You sure are an early bird! Thank you for agreeing to be featured in ‘The Sporting Doctor’! So, without further ado, please tell us about your sport of choice, and why.

Prof Ian: I don’t mind waking up early! I found that the early mornings are the only predictable timing for exercise, as nobody schedules meetings at that time! Some people like to exercise after dinner, or at their own timing, but whatever works for each of us right? You might also be tired out after a day’s work at night, but when you wake up in the mornings you are fresh.

Running has always been my past time, going as far back as my secondary school days. So there wasn’t a special trigger to this, it’s not like I suddenly became "Forrest Gump" and found that I could run! I find that running helps me focus, and like I always tell my wife and kid, running is a mind game. While running, I am actually thinking about the day ahead and not the actual running. That is autonomous as my body has already been conditioned to it. My mind tends to be on the tasks to clear for the day.

I usually run along ECP (East Coast Parkway), and for about 70-85 mins per session, and clock about 100km per week.

HealthXchange: Do you run competitively?

Prof Ian: Where marathons are concerned, I feel like you wake up early just to jostle with the crowd, and there is no real enjoyment to it. I don’t like running in these mass events because instead of fresh air, and COVID-19 tells you why it’s not good to breathe other people’s air!

HealthXchange: We are nowhere the runner you are, but that sounds about right! So tell us, what motivates you to run?

Prof Ian: When you see yourself getting fitter, and you feel healthier. When you look at the mirror and can see the change from 6 months ago. Like I mentioned, running is a mind game, so set yourself a target and get there. Of course, you can wait until you suffer a major scare like a stroke or heart attack before you decide to exercise, but like I always tell my patients, that is already too late.   

I run with my wife, so besides the bonding time, there is also a slight pressure on each other. When one gets up first, the one also feels like he/she has to wake up, haha! If you can’t do it alone, get your family, partner or a friend. I believe exercise will rub off your family members, and when your neighbors see you doing it, it is also contagious and they will feel the need to start exercising too.   

It is also important that as doctors, we walk the talk. I treat a lot of diabetic patients, and if I am obese and unfit, I am in no position to tell my patients to exercise!

Always stretch before exercising!

HealthXchange: Do you have any tips for our readers to avoid injury in running?

Prof Ian: Listen to your body, and rest when you need to. Before running, always hydrate well and stretch! What I do is also mix and match activities so that I avoid stress to any one joint.

HealthXchange: Do you track your performance while running? What is your measure of success?

Prof Ian: (For me) The Apple Watch is a good investment! It helps to track my heart rate and mileage. It is not something you actively look at when you run, but it can help you clock your HPB points for grocery shopping! It also gives you a gauge of your pace, and also it can link to a slew of other health apps from Apple that tells you if you are above average in terms of your cardiac performance, oxygen use and etc. As long as I clock in above average in all the areas, I am quite happy!

I hope encourage everyone, especially those around my age group (50s), to work out, as gaining weight as you age is not ok. There are weight-related health issues that will pop up, so spend the time exercising and with your family, rather than waiting to see the doctor and taking medicine.   

For improvement, there is really there is nothing to better, I see it rather as how to optimize the time to do actually run. Being a busy clinician, I tend to overlook the need to keep active which allowed my weight to creep up over the years.   

HealthXchange: What about food? What are your eating habits like?

Prof Ian: I am actually a picky eater so I eat whatever tickles my fancy. But always in moderation. I do have all 3 meals still and don’t follow any special diet. I just try to cut down on carbs, sugars and soft drinks. For some time now, I have stopped taking rice for meals, and especially not for dinner.   

Dinner, at least in the Singapore context, is probably the worst meal of the day. After breakfast and lunch, you probably have activities after that. But after dinner, the next thing you probably do is sit down in front of the TV, and then it’s bedtime soon after. I usually advise my patients to at least get up and walk a little after (dinner).

HealthXchange: How about mental health? What do you do to relax?

Prof Ian: Listen to music! Spotify is a gem, you can listen to all your favourite genres. I am into acoustic jazz, it reminds me of being in a lounge and I usually have a relaxing time. I listen to it as I work and drive.   

My preference for music is for those without lyrics, because when there are lyrics, you tend to want to understand what the song is about. For jazz and instrumental music, you don’t have to worry about what it is saying, you just listen and relax.   

I don’t listen to music while running though! My wife is afraid that I might get run over by bicycles or cars if I am plugged in while running, so for safety reasons, I run without music.

Spending time with my family, especially my wife, also helps me unwind. We tend to forget about family when work gets all busy. The pandemic has given me the opportunity to not only engage in sports and games , it also allowed us all to engage more as a family. There is a silver lining in the midst of this after all.

HealthXchange: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us Prof. Hopefully we can find it in ourselves to drag our lazy behinds out of bed in the mornings to join you for a run soon!

Who he is

Professor Ian Yeo obtained his Medical Degree from the National University of Singapore in 1992. He did Ophthalmology residency training in Singapore. He obtained his post-graduate Ophthalmology qualifications in 1999 and completed a further 3 years of advance surgical training. He obtained his specialist accreditation in 2003 and started to pursue a vitreoretina subspecialty training at the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) under Prof Ang Chong Lye.

In 2006, he was awarded a HMDP grant to further his vitreoretinal training in Sydney, Australia under Drs Andrew Chang and Paul Beaumont. He is currently a senior consultant vitreoretinal surgeon managing both medical and surgical retina conditions at SNEC. He is also a clinical lecturer with the NUS-YLL medical school.

Prof Yeo is a Senior Adjunct Scientist with the Singapore Eye Research Institute (SERI). His research interest includes age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy (PCV), two very important blinding conditions in Singapore. He has engaged in primate work developing animal models for AMD and looked at novel new strategies for delivering drugs for the condition under the retina. He is also a Principal Investigator for a number of international clinical trials for these 2 conditions.

His other research interests include retinovascular conditions including diabetic retinopathy. He is actively involved in clinical trials for these conditions as a co-investigator.

Ref: J22

For tips on how to prevent common running injuries, click here.

For home remedies on how to treat common running injuries, click here.