Leading a Healthy and Active Lifestyle

The mere thought of being active can be tiring, especially when age catches up. Yet whatever your age, being active is crucial to good health. Contrary to common misconception, this is even more so as one gets older and energy levels decrease.

An active lifestyle reduces the risk of many health problems, including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, Type 2 diabetes, strokes, some cancers like colon, prostate and breast cancer, and osteoporosis.

Even if one does not suffer from health problems, physical activity has many other benefits. It makes the body stronger through increased bone density and muscle mass, improved balance and improved ability of muscle to take in blood glucose. It slows down the ageing process through increased mobility and reduces body fat. Endorphins, or “feel-good” hormones released during exercise improves the mood and reduces depression.

Staying mentally active also contributes to overall well-being. It will keep the mind sharp at any age, so that one can lead a rich and fulfilling life. It is also a recommended form of deterrence against neuro- degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Learning a new skill or honing existing skills are the best ways to help you stay curious and involved.

There are many affordable ways to enjoy an active lifestyle. Aside from the usual free fitness amenities and grassroots events that you can tap on, your  nearest community clubs offer a plethora of activities and courses.

The following are examples of practical and fun courses that are held on a regular basis or have been held recently in community clubs in the Bishan and Toa Payoh areas. They are suitable for adult beginners and are available in English.

360 degrees body fitness

Learn varied and all- rounded workouts to improve fitness and achieve weight loss goals. Components taught include body toning, cardiovascular training, dance fitness, kick boxing, pilates and yoga. These training segments enhance muscle endurance, strength, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and metabolism,  which are all important for optimal health at any age.

Zumba Dance

A fun and energetic activity comprising of various dance movements ranging from Hip- Hop to Salsa. The movements set you high on energy as you dance to the beat of catchy, vibrant music. It is an enjoyable way to  lose weight and get in shape.

Hawker’s Delight – Local Delights at Home!

Learn to make delicious hawker food such as Hokkien Prawn Mee at home. By learning how to prepare the dishes yourself, you have absolute control over the ingredients and will be able to customise them to your heart’s content. No need to worry about annoying the hawker aunty or uncle with your picky tastebuds!

Bags and pouch making

Sewing is an intricate activity that will hone your focus and good hand-eye coordination skills. Furthermore, knowing to sew can help you to save money. You will be able to do simple repairs on your clothing, and express your creativity through hand-made products that will make original treasured gifts.

Baking for parents and kids

Getting children involved in food preparation not only helps them to be more appreciative of food, but also increases their confidence and self-reliance. This also presents an excellent opportunity for the family to bond. Children can attend the class unaccompanied which also has the bonus of providing opportunities for them to socialise with other children.

The above list is barely the tip of the iceberg. For more information and classes, visit https://one.pa.gov.sg/CRMSPortal/CRMSPortal.portal or call your nearest community club. Passion Card members enjoy courses at discounted prices. A 5-year membership term costs $ 72 for adults aged 18 – 59 years old and $10  for anyone outside this age group.

– This article first appeared in a lifestyle magazine.


Book Review: Singapore a Biography

Singapore a Biography by Mark Ravinder Frost, Yu-Mei Balasingamchow

”Singapore a Biography” is an enlightening read about Singapore from the era of her founding by Sir Stamford Raffles till the 1960s. The authors use narrative devices like alliterations and metaphors to create a vivid and lively biography quilted together with a large collection of eye witness accounts and photos.

What really sets this book apart from those of a similar genre is the provision of alternative and sometimes contrarian perspectives. The book lends a voice to a diversity of people – commoners, survivors, heroes, antagonists. For example, the account of the Japanese invasion of Malaya and Singapore included anecdotes from Japanese imperial Guard Corporal Tsuchikane Tominosuke’s memoirs, who had described his journey to the ”impregnable fortress” that was Singapore.

Getting to know the Singapore story from different view points helps drive home the reminder that history as told is not necessarily the absolute truth, but a winner’s narrative, and it is important to learn it from multiple perspectives.

Readers will also learn about some interesting anecdotes that would be omitted from the school curriculum for being controversial, such as the Karayuki-san (Japanese prostitutes trafficked from Japan to Asian countries) and how Singapore used to be christened “Sin-galore” and ”Chicago of the East” due to the excessive violence and chaos before law and order set in.

A downside is how this book stops abruptly at the events in the 1960s/70s. Several readers agree that a good concluding chapter could link modem-day Singapore to her past, with a discussion of attitudes that Singaporeans today hold towards the major themes in the book. Singapore a Biography is an entertaining book to supplement your knowledge about Singapore’s past. Even if you’re not a fan of history, the engaging narrative is likely to change your mind.

– This book review first appeared in a lifestyle magazine.


Make your ride fun and safe

In the next five years, residents of Bishan and Toa Payoh can expect their very own cycling network. This is a network of cycling paths that will connect cyclists from their homes to MRT stations, bus interchanges and nearby key amenities like shopping malls and schools. These cyclist paths also connect to the Park Connector Network, a scenic cycling route that brings you close to gardens, parks and nature all around Singapore.

But do remember that bicycles can cause serious accidents too, if misused. There are previous cases where cyclists were jailed for knocking down pedestrians in Singapore. All cyclists must practise responsible habits and mutual respect.

• Wear bright visible clothing so you can be seen, especially at night.
• Wear a comfortable safety helmet to protect your head.
• Maintain your bike on a regular basis to ensure that it doesn’t break down while you’re on it.
• Typical parts to check before beginning your ride include all the signal lights, brakes and tyre pressure.

• Turn on your lights when it is dark.
• Do not speed or ride haphazardly.
• Be aware and alert of your surroundings at all times. Do not listen to your mp3 player or use your phone. Eyes and ears on the roads at all times.
• Follow instructions on signs and markings.
• Keep to the left except when overtaking, and overtake in a safe manner.
• Use hand signals to alert others when making turns or stopping.
• Ring the bell only when necessary, and give ample time for the other cyclist or pedestrian to react.
• Give way to pedestrians. Remember to slow down at intersections of cycling paths with pedestrian access.

• Cycling is prohibited on pedestrian overhead bridges, pedestrian underpasses and pedestrian crossings, and malls. Dismount and push your bicycle.
• In places with high pedestrian traffic such as covered linkways and bus stops, be prepared to slow down and dismount.
• Look out for signboards and markings on the path. If there is nothing that indicates bicycles are on it, it should be assumed that you can’t ride in those areas.

• Park your bicycles at the designated bicycle racks in your estate. Single and double tier racks are available.
• Lock your bicycle if you have to leave it unattended. Secure all removable bicycle components.
• A U-lock provides better security compared to cable locks.
• Affix a bicycle security label on your bicycle. This label comes with a unique serial number that helps you and the Police to identify your bicycle if it is stolen. Approach any Neighbourhood Police Centre (NPC) with your bicycle to collect a label.

– This article first appeared in a newsletter for Bishan-Toa Payoh residents

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