As a fitness enthusiast myself, I know how it feels to be injured or sidelined. The feeling of helplessness and disappointment when you see your friends or colleagues engage in sports while you sit by the side is a super lousy feeling. And having to catch up on both lost time and form when you are back on your feet is none the sweeter.
 
That’s why I make it a point to keep reminding my clients and workshop participants of the need for good posture, proper lifting techniques and correct breathing.
 
I’m delighted to be invited to give a keynote presentation on managing sports injuries for the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF AFTC) Training Command Annual Safety Day in July 2015.
 
The Annual Safety Day is a closed-door event where all servicemen come together to review useful case studies (from the different divisions and units) and re-learn best practices in the industries. As the only civilian among the sea of uniformed officers, it is indeed my honour.

Among the many points I shared, the highlight of my presentation centred among debunking the popular myths surrounding sports injuries. Let me share the top 3 sports injury myths with you.
 

Sports Injury Myth #1: The More You Sweat, The Better
 
Many people believe that a good exercise must result in a sweat-soaked singlet and painful muscles the next day. 

Sorry, I beg to differ.
 
Sweating is inevitable as it is our biological reaction to cool the body temperature. Furthermore, there is no scientific link between the amount of sweat produced and the effectiveness of workout. That’s too arbitrary. 
 
Instead, let us be rational about exercise and use a better way to gauge its effectiveness. I would strongly recommend you monitor your heart rate instead as it is definitely a more realistic way to measure the intensity of your workout and whether your are overdoing or underdoing it.
 
Do note that you want to exercise and condition your heart, not overwork it. So exercising within your desired heart rate is optimal for best results.
 

Sports Injury Myth #2: Fat Can Be Turned Into Muscle
 
I posed this question to the audience and almost everyone raised their hand. 
 
“How many of you would like to have abs?”
 
I would too, if I were you.
 
We all love abs and wish we can have abs.
 
Now the good news is we all have abs! But the not-so-good news is our abs are hidden by layers of fat above and that’s why we can’t see them yet.
 
Interestingly, we can never turn fat into muscle. Exercising and doing sports can burn fat and build muscles. But seriously, burning fat and building muscles are two separate issues. Please do not confuse them.
 
And hey, you need to know that once you stop exercising, your muscles will only shrink in muscle mass. Your muscles will not turn into fat.

So for those of you who are still wondering what to do, I suggest you put on your sneakers and head out for some form of exercise…to burn fat. So your abs will be greeting you sooner than you know!

 
Sports Injury Myth #3: Stretching Is The Cure For All Sports Injuries
 
Stretching is good as it increases flexibility and mobility. I think this is common knowledge.
 
But there is no link between stretching and injury prevention. This is one of the weirdest sport injury myth I have come across.
 
Cold stretching can cause problems instead. That means you suddenly stretch your muscles out of the blue. 
 
What you should do instead is to start with a warmup first. Warmups are designed to increase your blood supply to your muscles. After a 10 minute warmup, then you continue to do your stretching and carry on with your sports or games. This is the proper way to get you fired up for your fitness journey ahead.
 
It is relatively simple to kickstart a fitness programme. All you have to do is to stay injury free and reap the benefits of exercise – more youthful looks, a better body and increased loads of confidence.
 
Keep calm and exercise on, my friends :)


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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.

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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.

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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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