Sports centres to offer exercise tips, tests

Fitness facilities in a housing estate. The Active Health Labs, set up by Sport Singapore in collaboration with healthcare partners, will be progressively rolled out to all sports centres here.
Fitness facilities in a housing estate. The Active Health Labs, set up by Sport Singapore in collaboration with healthcare partners, will be progressively rolled out to all sports centres here.ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM

Pilot Active Health Lab to open next week in Tampines, with another in Bedok next year

Visitors to community sports centres can in future find out what exercises suit them and how to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

At facilities called Active Health Labs, visitors can opt for "exercise screenings" and sign up for exercise programmes. Healthy food and drinks will also be served.

These labs will be progressively rolled out to all sports centres here, Sport Singapore chief executive Lim Teck Yin said yesterday, as Sport Singapore signed a memorandum of understanding with its healthcare partners, including the Health Promotion Board (HPB).

There are currently more than 100 sports centres, including sports halls and stadiums here, as listed on the ActiveSG website.

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The first prototype of the lab will be tried out at Our Tampines Hub from next Sunday until the end of the year .

Personnel trained by Changi General Hospital and Exercise is Medicine Singapore, the local arm of a global initiative to promote exercise as medicine, will be at the lab to conduct exercise screenings.

Sport Singapore declined to reveal the cost of the prototype lab.

Another lab will be set up next year at Heartbeat@Bedok, an integrated lifestyle hub.

These facilities are part of a new initiative called Active Health by Sport Singapore and its healthcare partners to get more people to take charge of their health through sports and fitness.

It is one of the ways to achieve Sport Singapore's 20-year road map - Vision 2030 - to get people healthy through sports.

Mr Lim said the national sports agency is looking at different models but it makes sense to have these labs in sports centres, which are spread across the community.

The initiative comes on the back of obesity statistics released by HPB last month.

The data found that the biggest increase in the proportion of overweight people came during the transition to working life.

The data collected over nearly 30 years also showed that while Singaporeans are exercising more, they are also eating a lot more.

Six in 10 exceeded their recommended daily intake in 2010.

On average, they consumed 2,624 calories daily, a marked increase from the 2,062 calories in 1998.

A man needs about 2,200 calories a day, while a woman requires about 1,800 calories.

Mr Lim added that the Active Health Labs may also be set up elsewhere.

"We are exploring the possibility of establishing one (a lab) in one of the IHLs (institutes of higher learning)... that has its fair share of youth who would really benefit from Exercise is Medicine," said Mr Lim.

He declined to name the school.

The labs will be complemented by an app, which can be integrated with health devices such as the Fitbit and Apple Watch, to be launched at the end of next year.

Users will be able to monitor their own as well as their family members' lifestyle habits.

The app will also enable them to access coaches, on top of health and wellness content and programmes.

Besides this Active Health scheme, other initiatives to encourage Singaporeans to keep healthy and fit include ActiveSG, a national movement for sport launched in 2014 by Sport Singapore, and NurtureSG, a task force set up to encourage young people to adopt healthier habits.

Ms Agnes Wang, 53, an office manager, said it would be more convenient if the Active Health Labs are located near her home.

Ms Wang, who has had rheumatoid arthritis for the past 15 years, noted that people had to make time to go to the sports centres.

"I don't exercise after work because I'm too tired, and I mainly do stretching or walk around my estate," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2017, with the headline 'Sports centres to offer exercise tips, tests'. Print Edition | Subscribe