Extend ActiveSG scheme to other gyms to encourage exercise

According to many sport and health experts, the most effective action against diabetes is reducing obesity ("Target fight at obesity" by Dr Alvin Ng Choong Meng; Tuesday).

This is best achieved by exercising at least three times a week; a short 10- to 30-minute workout is sufficient to provide the required health benefit.

However, there should also be a rest day between workouts for our bodies to heal and recover.

Unfortunately, due to busy working schedules, most Singaporeans usually exercise only once a week, during the weekend.

This is not sufficient in reducing obesity rates.

The recent hot weather is also discouraging people from engaging in even basic outdoor activity.

In order to overcome these obstacles, I strongly recommend that we focus on getting Singaporeans to work out in gyms, where our hot weather will not be an obstacle, as they are air-conditioned environments.

Unfortunately, most offices and homes are not near ActiveSG gyms, and this may discourage many Singaporeans from exercising, especially those who work late.

Perhaps ActiveSG could extend the MyActiveGym scheme to other gyms for a limited period, to provide better accessibility for more homes and offices near them.

Subsiding the cost of accessing these gyms with ActiveSG credits will help encourage more Singaporeans to give gyms a try.

Once the habit has been cultivated, people should be able to maintain their regular workouts without ActiveSG assistance.

In addition, we should encourage companies to support a healthy lifestyle, as it has been proven to improve productivity in the workplace. Companies should allow employees to leave work an hour earlier twice a week (on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for example) so they can exercise.

To ensure staff are leaving work early to exercise, companies can make it a weekly company event.

Wong Boon Hong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2016, with the headline 'Extend ActiveSG scheme to other gyms to encourage exercise'. Print Edition | Subscribe