SINGAPORE - Twenty years ago, Veerappan Veerappan was diagnosed with high blood pressure during a routine medical check-up.
The doctor advised the then-47 year old to start exercising, which kickstarted his love for brisk walking.
"I was not really into exercise and was very lazy when it came to sport, also because I used to travel quite a lot for work," he told The Straits Times at his Jurong West home.
Though sedentary by nature, Veerappan decided to heed the doctor's advice, by going on brisk walks almost every evening, and keeping up his routine on his overseas trips by clocking up to 5km on the treadmill.
"Normally I would do it on my own, but sometimes I would walk with my wife as well," said Veerappan, now the chief technical officer of a company specialising in household cleaning products, from his home, which overlooks the Jurong West Stadium. "It is a very healthy activity and helps me relax after work too."
He decided to sign up for the 5km category of The Straits Times Run on a whim two years ago, just to experience the feeling of exercising in a group setting.
He was hooked.
"It was a very good experience, a lot of people were there from all walks of life, and the route took us past landmarks such as the Singapore Flyer," said the father of two daughters.
He had hoped to attend the ST Run last year, but could not because he had some heart trouble just before the July 16 event. During another routine medical check-up, the medical staff realised that his heartbeat was irregular, and he was immediately sent to the National University Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a heart murmur and hospitalised for a few days for treatment.
He was then told to lay off exercising for about three weeks thereafter, and to do light exercises for the following three weeks before he could resume his normal routine.
Veerappan said: "I felt bad not doing my walks, but I knew I shouldn't force myself, for my health.
"It was really a good feeling the first time I took my walk after that (the hospitalisation); it always is when you are doing something that you like."
But Veerappan will be back for the 5km category of The Straits Times Run 2018, presented by Panasonic, which will be held at the Singapore Sports Hub on Sept 23.
He said: "I found the atmosphere very lively and exciting at the 2016 run, and I am looking forward to this year's run."
Interested runners can sign up for The Straits Times Run 2018, presented by Panasonic, at www.straitstimesrun.com.
This year's event has three categories - 5km, 10km and 18.45km. The registration fee is $50, $60 and $70 respectively. Past participants enjoy a loyal runner rate and pay just $38, $48 and $58.