Regular physical activity helps prevent chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes.

Chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease, cancer and diabetes are among the most common and costly health problems in Singapore and account for about two-thirds of deaths.

Preventing them can be a simple matter of a healthy diet and regular exercise. A study released by the World Health Organisation[1] recommends approximately 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity physical activity per week. This works out to approximately 10,000 steps per day, which can reduce the risk of common chronic illnesses such as breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and stroke.

Make your weekly workout fun with these exercises that will keep you feeling and looking in the pink of health. Before you start exercising, check with your doctor whether these are suitable exercises for type 2 diabetes or other chronic conditions.

#1 Swimming, health benefits beyond preventing chronic conditions

Swimming is a good physical exercise for diabetes.

Swimming is a physical activity that offers an aerobic workout with none of the stress on your skeletal system, making it suitable for people of all ages, as well as those recovering from injuries. Try to incorporate a variety of strokes such as freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly, as they work different muscle groups and will provide a total body workout. Besides strengthening and toning your muscles, studies on patients with asthma showed that swimming can improve lung function, and heart and lung fitness[2].

Related: Types of Physical Activities

#2 Cycle to lose weight and prevent chronic illnesses

Regular aerobic exercises like cycling has many health benefits.

Combine your workout with your commute — the growing number of cycling paths in Singapore makes it easy for you to cycle around your neighbourhood, or even to and from work via the island’s park connector network. Engaging in regular aerobic exercises like cycling a few times a week increases cardiovascular fitness, and at the same time decreases stress and body fat levels. Cycling is a great way to let go of any tension accumulated at work.

On weekends, try waking up before sunrise to hit the parks before the crowds arrive, and enjoy a cool, leisurely cycle with your partner or family as the sun comes up. Remember your helmet, and ride safely!

Related: Take it Outdoors to Unwind

#3 Strength Training, a weatherproof physical activity

Strength training a few times a week will keep you strong and healthy.

You can hit the gym regardless of time or weather, making it easy to fit workouts into your schedule. Make the most of your gym session by performing compound exercises, which use multiple joints and muscle groups at the same time. These will help you build functional strength more effectively, since most of our daily movements and activities use multiple joints.

For starters, try strength training exercises such as dumbbell lunges, barbell squats and dumbbell shoulder press. Try to perform about eight to 12 reps per set. New to the gym? Enlist the help of a trainer to ease you into strength training and get you started with the right form, which will also prevent injury.

Related: Tips to Get Started on Your Exercise Journey

#4 Yoga for a balance of strength and flexibility

Doing yoga a few times a week will keep you healthy.

Yoga may seem meditative and relaxing, but it also requires a balance of strength and flexibility, and can prove to be a challenging workout. Beginners should start with a Hatha class to pick up the fundamental poses, before trying out more intensive and faster styles of yoga such as Vinyasa and Ashtanga. Sunrise in the City, which offers free exercise classes, has various yoga studios in their lineup, so you can try out a few as you settle into your yoga practice.

Related: Mindful about Mindfulness

#5 Running your way to better chronic disease prevention

Aerobic exercises like running will boost your cardiovascular health.

Add some variation to your usual running routine to keep things interesting. One option is to include interval training as part of your exercise programme, where you run at a faster pace for a sustained duration, slow down to let your body recover, and then speed up again. Alternatively, charge up the terrain by going off-road at MacRitchie Reservoir or Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, which will give you a change of scenery and make your body work harder on the undulating terrain.

Invest in a good pair of running shoes that are suited to both your feet and running patterns, and remember to stretch before and after each run to prevent injury. Lastly, take care of yourself by listening to your body, and easing up the pace if you need to — exercise caution today so you can exercise again tomorrow!

Have fun and earn rewards while you get fit — take part in the National Steps Challenge™. Log your steps on the Healthy 365 app, a health and diet tracking mobile application, by linking tracking devices such as HPB’s step trackers.

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.


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References

  1. Kyu, H. H., Bachman, V. F., Alexander, L. T., Mumford, J. E., Afshin, A., Estep, K., et al. (2016, Aug 09). Physical activity and risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, and ischemic stroke events: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. BMJ, 2016(354), i3857.
    Retrieved December 2016 from http://www.bmj.com/content/354/bmj.i3857
  2. Freutel, N. (2015, Dec 11). Why Is Swimming Good for Asthma? [Website].
    Retrieved December 2016 from http://www.livestrong.com/article/366684-why-is-swimming-good-for-asthma/