SINGAPORE - A new challenge that features guided walking trails curated specially for seniors who will be participating in this year's National Steps Challenge was launched on Sunday (Sept 29), as the number of seniors joining in the yearly exercise programme rises.
Over its first four editions, the number of participants aged 60 and above grew from 16,000 in 2015 to 140,000 last year, said Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor.
They have also been walking more, with the average number of steps clocked daily by this age group increasing from 6,900 to 10,500 over the same time period, she added at the launch at Tampines Community Plaza.
Called the Silver Challenge, it features walks at iconic locations and nature parks in various parts of Singapore, such as Tampines Eco-green, and simple tips on healthy ageing.
The total number of trails and their locations have yet to be confirmed by the Health Promotion Board (HPB).
The Silver Challenge is meant as a tribute to the Merdeka Generation and to motivate the elderly to stay physically active.
Since sign-ups for the Silver Challenge opened last Friday, 18,000 seniors have joined, said the HPB.
Participants get a specially designed heart rate monitoring fitness tracker that has a colour display, a silver rim and an extra set of black-and-red straps.
Dr Khor emphasised the need for seniors to take good care of their health, as Singaporeans are living longer.
She noted that while life expectancy increased from 76.1 years in 1990 to 84.8 years in 2017, the number of years spent in ill health also rose from nine years to 10.5 years over the same period.
Season 4 of the National Steps Challenge had 800,000 sign-ups, a fivefold increase from Season 1, which was launched in 2015.
Data across the last four seasons also showed a rise in physical activity among participants over time, driven by both clocking steps and engagement in higher-intensity exercises.
Those who participated in all past seasons recorded an improvement of 3,950 steps per day since the first season.
The introduction of the Moderate- to Vigorous-intensity Physical Activity category in Season 4 led to an increase in participation in higher-intensity exercises by 19 minutes per week, from Season 3 to Season 4.
This year's National Steps Challenge, which starts on Oct 26, will add two more rewards tiers to the Moderate- to Vigorous-intensity Physical Activity category.
The HPB will also be giving away exclusively designed Pokemon-themed collectable kits to participants who have joined all four past seasons or who have completed all six reward tiers of the Steps category across the seasons.