Fit And Fab

Running helps grandpa relax and stay energised

Mr Henry Tan wakes up very early two to three times a week to run at 6am. He enjoys spending time with his family and playing with his granddaughter.
Mr Henry Tan wakes up very early two to three times a week to run at 6am. He enjoys spending time with his family and playing with his granddaughter.PHOTO: COURTESY OF HENRY TAN

Businessman Henry Tan tells Joyce Teo what motivated him to get back in shape when he was in his late 40s.

Q What do you do to keep fit?

A I run two to three times a week and I do it at 6am, before work.

I keep a steady pace and cover 10km in about an hour.

  • Bio Box

  • HENRY TAN

    AGE: 67

    WEIGHT: 69kg

    HEIGHT: 1.71m

    When he was in his 30s, regular exercise was the last thing on Mr Tan's mind - work commitments were more important.

    Also, constant travelling meant that the businessman could not really maintain a fitness routine.

    He got a wake-up call when early signs of hypertension appeared.

    "I was nearing 50, and my son was still a teenager," he said.

    As he wanted to live long enough to spend time with the grandchildren he hoped to have, he decided it was time to get fit.

    Moreover, his doctor had advised him to start exercising regularly, and to avoid salty or fatty food as well.

    Mr Tan started running, and he now sees a healthy lifestyle and steady exercise as the key to a longer and happier life.

    He has taken part in many sporting events, and is now training for the Rotary Run later this month.

    His homemaker wife is 65, and his son is now 37, with a four-year-old daughter.

Q Why do you like running?

A It's relaxing and a great way to stay energised throughout the week. More importantly, it helps me stay in shape.

I take my running shoes when I go on business trips, and will visit the gym if I can't run outdoors.

Q What is your secret to looking so fabulous?

A When you are healthy, you will look good too, and that's not just on the outside.

I find that living a healthy lifestyle positively affects how you look at family, work and life.

The most important thing is consistency, and that's not a secret. So many successes were built up regularly over time; I think the same rules apply to keeping fit too.

Q Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?

A Yes, this was when I was in my 30s and 40s.

I used to run regularly with my friends in my younger days. That stopped when I was in my 30s as I became too busy with my work.

Q What made you return to running again?

A I started to run regularly again in my late 40s. That was when I showed signs of hypertension.

Like every parent in the world, I wanted to be a grandpa - a strong grandpa who can play and run with my grandkids, without tiring easily.

To be able to do that, I needed to change my lifestyle and get fit.

Q How was the adjustment like initially?

A The first few months were tough; I couldn't even run 5km without resting. It wasn't going well but I told myself to keep going, and I did.

I have lost a few kilograms since then. More importantly, I can run around and play with my four-year-old granddaughter without getting tired easily.

Looking back, that was the best decision I ever made.

Q What is your diet like?

A I have to admit that I am one of those people who live to eat.

Most of the time, though, I try to eat a balanced diet; and when I sometimes indulge, I do so sensibly.

I don't avoid carbs or fats but I do watch my portion sizes.

Q What are your indulgences?

A I love seafood or a piece of steak.

Q How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

A I enjoy spending time with family and playing with my granddaughter. For me, that is the best relaxation. I also do community work in my free time, as well as volunteer my time for charitable causes. I work with the Rotary Family Service Centre on its various programmes, as the well-being of families is important to me.

Q What are the three most important things in your life?

A My family, everything starts with the family.

Second, it's my health. Without it, I cannot help anyone.

Then comes our community, because everybody is important.

Q What's your favourite part of your body?

A My legs, because I love running. I don't really have a part of me that I don't like.

Q What is the most extreme thing you have done in the name of fitness or diet?

A I don't consider myself an extreme or hard-core athlete.

Perhaps some people would consider waking up really early to run at 6am extreme, but I don't. If you do it regularly, it becomes a habit.

Q How has your active lifestyle influenced your family and friends?

A My son and daughter-in-law both live an active lifestyle. They are avid runners.

I also got to know a lot of people who run regularly in the morning. I would say that we influence and reinforce one another's healthy habits.

Q How extensive is your collection of sports-related paraphernalia at home?

A I have some medals from previous runs that I had participated in, but nothing that can be considered a collection.

When choosing sportswear or footwear, my main consideration is comfort and utility. These things do wear out and get replaced, so I don't really have a prized possession.

Q Would you go for plastic surgery?

A No. That won't be the real me.

Q Do you think you're sexy?

A My wife still thinks I am sexy, and that's all that matters.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 03, 2015, with the headline 'Running helps grandpa relax and stay energised'. Print Edition | Subscribe