Get help with fitness in the heartland

Sport Singapore staff undergoing a mock fitness assessment. They are attended to by Ms Jasmine Tan, 29, and Mr Nicholas Zhang, 39 - staff at the Active Health Lab at Our Tampines Hub.
Sport Singapore staff undergoing a mock fitness assessment. They are attended to by Ms Jasmine Tan, 29, and Mr Nicholas Zhang, 39 - staff at the Active Health Lab at Our Tampines Hub.PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Active Health Lab in Tampines expands its suite of services; another lab to open in Bedok

Fitness assessments and personalised health and wellness management - these are just some of the services that members of the public can enjoy at the Active Health Lab at Our Tampines Hub starting today, to help and encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles.

The lab, an initiative by Sport Singapore and its healthcare partners, aims to promote a healthy lifestyle by making health and fitness expertise more accessible to the community. It previously offered health and fitness information sessions when it opened in August last year for a five-month pilot that ended last month.

Under the pilot, the lab also helped people measure health indicators such as blood pressure, waist circumference and body composition, which includes the percentage of body fat and muscle mass.

With the pilot deemed a success, the lab will now continue to offer these services alongside the new ones from today, such as fitness assessments.

Over 1,000 people have attended the lab's health and fitness information sessions since August, with more than half of them - 630 - being members of the public, said Dr Chiang Hock Woon, Sport Singapore's deputy chief executive officer. The rest were staff from Sport Singapore and stakeholders such as other government agencies.

During the sessions, participants learn how to cultivate healthy habits through physical activity, screen time, sleep and healthy eating.

They are also advised by staff, who are trained in sports science and by Exercise Is Medicine Singapore, on their health goals, based on their health indicators.

  • 1 in 3

    Of those who attended the health and fitness information sessions at the Active Health Lab was between 30 and 45 years old.

    60%

    Of the participants were overweight.

    75%

    Of them had a high percentage of body fat.

Exercise Is Medicine Singapore is part of a global effort to encourage healthcare professionals to incorporate exercise in treatment.

Participants are encouraged to return for a follow-up three months later to check if their health and fitness readings have improved.

"Through these sessions, we hope that people will spread the word and encourage each other to adopt simple and easy habits that anyone can take up to improve their health and wellness," said Dr Chiang.

Figures so far seem to indicate a need for early intervention.

One in three of the people who attended the sessions was aged between 30 and 45 years old.

Overall, 60 per cent of the participants fell under the overweight category and 75 per cent had a high percentage of body fat.

In addition, one third of them also had elevated blood pressure and low skeletal muscle mass.

With the fitness assessment, people can now get on a treadmill or stationary bike, or simply do a walking test, to find out their cardio-respiratory fitness. They can also undergo a functional movement screening test and strength test as part of the assessment.

The personalised health and wellness management takes health goal-setting one step further - staff will help participants develop a plan to achieve their goals based on their current lifestyle.

"We are here to guide them, but at the end of the day, Active Health is mainly to educate the public to take ownership of their health," said Ms Jasmine Tan, a staff member at the lab, referring to the initiative to get more people to take charge of their health through sports and fitness.

The lab's services are currently free of charge, though Sport Singapore is in the process of determining the charges for services.

Mr Vincent Lee, 62, is already looking forward to taking his journey to a healthier lifestyle one step further.

After attending the health and fitness information sessions in September last year, he has started walking up steps instead of taking the escalator, and has refrained from any screen time half an hour before he sleeps to get into a more peaceful state of mind before going to bed. "It has made me more conscious of what I need to do... As I age, I'm also more concerned about having enough strength to protect myself from hitting my head if I fall down," said the allied educator at a secondary school, who has high blood pressure.

Another lab will open next month at integrated lifestyle hub Heartbeat@Bedok, and an app for health and fitness management will be launched later in the year.

SEE MIND AND BODY

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2018, with the headline 'Get help with fitness in the heartland'. Print Edition | Subscribe