Health Promotion Board Health Talks For Silver-Haired Seniors In Singapore

I’m really excited to partner Health Promotion Board again in this brand new collaboration where we spread the message of healthy living to more people in Singapore. While the workshops over the last three years focused on inducting primary school students into becoming early adopters of a healthy lifestyle, this new collaboration which we kickstarted in July 2015 targets the seniors.
As Singapore experiences a fast greying population, it is not uncommon to see more silver-haired uncles, aunties, grandpas and grandmas around our estates. The seniors, as they are collectively known, deserve our care and concern.
Ageing is an inevitable process. What we can prepare ourselves is to age gracefully by leading a healthy lifestyle. We are fortunate to have many new initiatives in Singapore such as the Council for Third Age (C3A) which focuses on our seniors.
And honestly, it is my privilege to bring a little cheer to the seniors through the health advocacy talks.

Shuttling among four Resident Committees (RCs) in this month alone, my message to all was centred on the twin pillars of healthy eating and regular exercise. Using Mandarin and dialects as the medium of instruction, it was a really fun experience that I will always cherish. What’s more, the seniors were all laugh-a-minute, learn-a-minute folks that I endeared myself to.
Let me now share with you the takeaways from the health advocacy talks.

As a health advocate myself, I deem it my calling to spread the message of healthy living among my family, friends, colleagues and community at large. You too, regardless of age, should attempt to do the same. There is no better gift in life than to give others the gift of good health. Good health is something that money cannot buy. Only when you are in good health will you be able to live life to the fullest, be happy and look after your loved ones.

The only proven ways to lead a healthy lifestyle are eating the right foods and exercising regularly to maintain a healthy weight.

Why Eat Healthy?
Singapore is a food paradise. The challenge is not having no food to eat but choosing the right foods. This is so because not all foods are prepared equally. What do I mean? Some foods are high in fats, cholesterol, sodium and sugar. 
Think of our bodies as the reservoir of good energy. When we feed our bodies with garbage, our bodies cannot absorb the necessary nutrients and it cannot give its best. Worse, chronic heart diseases, Type 2 diabetes and cancers are fast becoming the major silent killers in Singapore. 
We owe it ourselves to eat healthy. Here are three simple ways we can achieve this.
• Eat Meals In Smaller Portions. Forget about eating three full meals. Extensive research has shown that we should be eating our meals in smaller portions. And we can eat up to 5 to 6 small meals a day. This means we should be eating every 3 hours. This is to help prevent us from binging or having a food craving. More importantly, it helps us control our weight and keeps our energy levels constant.

• Choose Foods That Have The Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS). Health Promotion Board and the other government agencies have done a great service to all Singaporeans by classifying foods that we find in the supermarkets and grocery stores. Pick foods that carry the Healthier Choice Symbol (it’s a triangle logo) and you can be certain you are doing your bodies good because these foods are lower in sodium, sugar and fats. 

• Include Fruit and Vegetables. In a society where the majority of the population comprises meat lovers, it is imperative to include fruit and vegetables in our diet. Fruit and vegetables provide our bodies with vitamins, minerals and fibre – all of which are essential for a balanced living. Some vegetables such as broccoli too have strong antioxidant properties and are great overall.


Why Exercise Regularly?
As we grow older, our metabolism rate declines. The only way to maintain an ideal body weight is through exercise.

Exercise helps us to control both calories in and calories out. The principle is simple – if we ingest more calories than we require, we will put on weight. If we expand more calories vis-à-vis our intake, we will lose weight. If our calories in equals our calories out, we maintain our body weight.

Though the Body Mass Index (BMI) may not be the most accurate measure of one’s body weight relation to heart-related diseases, it is still a useful general guide that we can draw reference from.

Theoretical though it sounds, the seniors were quick to grasp the concept. And they were all eager to move their bodies. From post-workshop conversations with some of them, they shared that they really loved the 6-step resistance band exercise which I rallied everyone to do together.
Having released an resistance band exercises and published an exercise calendar in 2012 showcasing the different exercises working each muscle group, I have a special love for the resistance band. It is not only portable, lightweight but it also gives you no excuse not to exercise. 
As seniors tend to lose their muscle mass as they age, the resistance band exercises are an excellent way for them to increase their muscle strength, power and endurance. To cap it all off, the seniors were told the bands were a gift to them. 
I’m happy I made a difference. You can too. Start small by becoming a health advocate in your family. Every tree you see today starts from a seed. With perseverance and passion, we can bring more happiness and healthy living to every corner of Singapore.

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