Cabbies keep eye on health with mass workout

ConfortDelGro's women cabbies snapping a wefie before the morning workout yesterday. About 1,000 of the company's 37,000 taxi drivers got together with their families to exercise at Bukit Gombak Stadium.
ConfortDelGro's women cabbies snapping a wefie before the morning workout yesterday. About 1,000 of the company's 37,000 taxi drivers got together with their families to exercise at Bukit Gombak Stadium.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Bukit Gombak Stadium was a sea of blue and yellow yesterday as around 1,000 cabbies and their families participated in a mass exercise to keep fit.

The event, organised by public transport operator ComfortDelGro in collaboration with ActiveSG, the national movement for sport, was meant to encourage drivers to lead healthier lifestyles as their job requires them to spend most of their day seated. The mass workout at the stadium was followed by a 20-minute brisk walk around Bukit Batok Town Park.

Cabby Esther Chew, 45, who has been a taxi driver for over a year, said she works five days a week and puts in about 12 hours a day. She switched to a healthier lifestyle after she found out during a health screening three months into the job that she had high blood pressure.

Sitting in her taxi for long hours also made her feel tense.

"I thought that cannot be... Health is important too," said Ms Chew. "When I exercise, I feel more alert on the road. I don't feel so stressed and overall I feel happier."

Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo, who joined in the event yesterday, said she was glad that such activities have been put in place to nudge taxi drivers into adopting an active lifestyle.

"Taxi drivers carry out their jobs seated throughout the day. Except for rest stops, the job can be sedentary," she added.

To help cabbies better manage their health, ComfortDelGro and the Health Promotion Board in 2014 launched a health-screening and coaching programme called Check Car, Check Body.

Under this programme, cabbies go for health screenings when they send their vehicles in for monthly servicing. The coaching programme involves having a nurse guide taxi drivers on how to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes.

About half of the cabbies who went for the pilot health screening in 2014 have shown improvement in either blood pressure, blood glucose or cholesterol levels, ComfortDelGro said.

To date, about 8,000 cabbies have participated in the health screening and coaching programme and another 5,000 are expected to do so this year. All 37,000 ComfortDelGro taxi drivers also have free access to ActiveSG's gymnasiums and swimming pools every Wednesday until the end of next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2016, with the headline 'Cabbies keep eye on health with mass workout'. Print Edition | Subscribe