Weight management - it's easier than you think​

Trying to manage weight can be difficult and confusing at first, but once you learn how to get started on a proper exercise and diet programme, you will start to see big improvements in your health and weight. The key is to set realistic goals. Adults and Older Adults should try to aim for weight loss of not more than 0.5 to 1kg per week or 10% from baseline weight.

Getting started

Here are some helpful tips and advice to get you started on the right track to your ideal weight and fitness level:

1)  It is recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week to see an overall improvement on health and fitness.


With moderate-intensity activities:
  •     Your heart rate increases.
  •     You are able to talk, but not sing during the activity.

Examples include:

  • Brisk walking (walking pace of 1km in 10-15 minutes)
  • Badminton
  • Leisurely bike-riding on level ground, or with a few hills
  • Table Tennis
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
2) Besides aerobic activities, one should also engage in muscle-strengthening activities (also known as resistance training or strength training) that work all the major muscle groups (e.g. arms, shoulders, chest, back, hips, legs, abdominals) on two or more days a week.

Muscle-strengthening activities is essential in improving overall health and fitness too. They make the muscles stronger by overloading the muscles. Engaging in regular muscle-strengthening activities will increase muscle mass, which helps burn calories.
  • You should do 8 to 10 different exercises in total
  • Adults should aim to complete 2-3 sets  of  8 to 12 repetitions for each set of exercise
  • Give yourself a rest period of at least 2 days between each session

Examples of muscle-strengthening activities:

  • Free weights
  • Weight lifting machines
  • Resistance bands
  • Body Weight exercises, e.g., push-ups, sit-ups, squats.

3) Having difficulty starting an exercise programme? We’ll provide you solutions to some of the most common barriers you may have.

Related: Is an activity tracker necessary?

​Suggestions for Overcoming Physical Activity Barriers
​Lack of time
  • ​Monitor your daily activities for one week. Identify available time slots where you can get at least 10 minutes of aerobic type physical activity.
  • Add physical activity to your daily routine. Walk or ride your bicycle to work or to the shops, and organise your daily activities around physical activity. E.g. walk the dog, exercise while you watch TV, park farther away from your destination.
  • Select activities requiring minimal time, such as walking, jogging or stair climbing.
​Lack of motivation
  • ​Plan ahead. Make physical activity a regular part of your daily or weekly schedule and write it on your calendar.
  • Invite a friend to exercise with you on a regular basis and write it on both your calendars.
  • Join an exercise group or class.
​Lack of resources
  • ​Select activities that require minimal facilities or equipment, such as walking, jogging, jumping rope or simple exercises.
  • Identify inexpensive, convenient resources available in your community (e.g. community clubs, parks, workplace programmes).
​Weather conditions
  • ​Develop a set of regular activities that are always available, regardless of the weather (e.g. indoor cycling, aerobic dance, indoor swimming, simple exercises, stair climbing, rope skipping, mall walking, dancing)
​Family obligations
  • ​Trade babysitting time with a friend, neighbour, or family member who also has small children.
  • Exercise with the kids, e.g. go for a walk together, play ball games, ’catching’ or other running games, get an aerobic dance or exercise tape for kids (there are several on the market) and exercise together. You can spend time together and still get your exercise.
  • Skip rope, do simple exercises, ride a stationary bicycle, or use home gymnasium equipment while the kids are busy playing or sleeping.
  • Try to exercise when the kids are not around (e.g. during school hours or their nap time).​

Busting Exercise Myths

Don’t let exercise myths keep you from reaching your target weight and goal. The sooner you learn the real facts, the closer you’ll be to achieving your ideal weight.

Myth 1: Women who engage in muscle-strengthening exercises will get big muscles.

Fact: Muscle strengthening exercises is an important factor in preventing age-related muscle loss. Women should do such training to improve strength, bone health, and to tone up.

Myth 2: In order to get into shape or lose weight, I have to run or do other vigorous exercises.  

Fact: Any form of aerobic exercise can help a person get the benefits of exercise. Brisk walking or moderate intensity aerobics are great ways to burn calories.

  • The more vigorous the exercise, the more calories you will burn in a shorter time, but with moderate physical activities, you can go a bit longer to get the same calorie burn.
  • The goal is to achieve at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity per week for overall improvement in health and fitness.


Related: Get Fit the Techie Way

Myth 3: You need special clothes / attire in order to exercise effectively.

Fact: No special clothing is needed. Safe and effective exercise can be performed wearing comfortable sports shoes and loose-fitting everyday clothes.

Myth 4: Daily lifestyle physical activities such as taking the stairs, standing more than sitting, and taking leisurely walks don't make any difference when it comes to weight loss.

Fact: Everything counts. While daily lifestyle activities may not improve aerobic fitness, they still burn more calories than simply sitting in front of your TV or computer. Along with your regular exercise programme for weight loss, daily lifestyle activities can help enhance your weight management.

Myth 5: I can also lose weight by using vibrating machines.

Fact: To lose weight, one must do 150-300 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. There is no scientific evidence suggesting that spot reduction exercises such as vibrating machines or ab machines result in weight loss.


Myth 6: After I lose weight and I am happy with my weight loss, I can cut back on the amount of physical activity I do.

Fact: This is a common mistake made by those who are eager to lose weight.​

  • To maintain weight loss, individuals should continue to aim to do 150-300 minutes per week, of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.
  • It’s important to remember that you are making a sustainable lifestyle change, and not just a one-off attempt to lose weight.

How to manage your weight with a healthy diet

The key to managing your weight successfully is by ensuring that the calories you consume do not exceed the calories you burn.


Go for lower calorie options
Take in fewer calories by controlling the type and amount of food and drinks you consume.
You can go for:

  • Soupy options and lower-calorie meals offered by participating food courts and restaurants.
  • Smaller portions - which means fewer calories.
  • Choose healthier drinks or switch to plain water.


Swop to Wholegrains
Be it bread, rice or noodles, natural is best! The less processed your options, the more wholegrain it contains – it also helps satisfy your appetite faster, and for longer.

When prepared well (i.e. with less fat and sugar), wholegrains, fruits and vegetables are relatively lower in calories. They are also a rich source of antioxidants so you get more goodness in these foods for every mouthful of calories you consume. 

Don’t fret about limiting your wholegrains to just bread and rice. Singaporeans can enjoy a wider variety of wholegrain products such as wholegrain noodles, kway teow, mun tou and biscuits.


Go for Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) Products
Consume more HCS products as these are generally lower in fat and sugar and hence lower in calories too.

Myths and Facts About Food

Myth 1: Certain foods, like grapefruit, celery, or cabbage soup, can burn fat and make you lose weight.

Fact: No foods can burn fat. However, fruit and vegetables are naturally low in calories and high in fibre. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet if you’re trying to lose weight is a good strategy as they make you feel full on fewer calories.

Myth 2: I shouldn’t eat between meals when trying to lose weight.

Fact: You can eat between meals and still lose weight, as long as the total amount of calories you consume is less than the calories you use. If you choose to eat between meals, eat smaller main meals and choose healthier snack options (e.g. fresh fruits, low-fat yoghurt) to keep your total calorie intake within your allowance.

Myth 3: Skipping meals or taking meal replacements can help you lose weight.

Fact: Our body, especially the brain, requires a regular supply of glucose from food to function optimally. Stick to a regular eating schedule as missing meals may lead to impulsive snacking and overeating and may lower the rate at which the body burns energy. In the long run, such dietary habits may also lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Myth 4: 'Going vegetarian' means you are sure to lose weight and be healthier.

Fact: Vegetarians, like non-vegetarians, can still make food choices that contribute to weight gain such as ​eating large amounts of high-fat foods (e.g. deep-fried items) or foods with high sugar content (e.g. soft drinks). Vegetarian diets should be carefully planned to make sure they are balanced. Nutrients that non-vegetarians normally get from animal products but may be lacking in a vegetarian eating plan include iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and zinc.

Myth 5: Cut out desserts

Fact: You don’t need to cut out all sweet foods to lose weight. People who deprive themselves may end up eating more. You can treat yourself occasionally but don’t overindulge – just have a small portion of dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Myth 6: Never eat at night

Fact: It doesn’t matter what time you eat; what’s important is how many calories you consume. If your total calorie intake is less than the calories you use, weight loss will happen.

Myth 7: Meal replacements can be used for weight loss

Fact: Meal replacements can be used for weight loss but only under medical supervision as there are various factors a doctor or a dietician will consider when prescribing meal replacements. They are usually prescribed for a short period as meal replacements are not a long term solution for weight management. They also lack the full complement of beneficial phytochemicals to keep our bodies healthy.

Read these next:

  1. Women who engage in muscle-strengthening exercises will get big muscles -  Handelsman, D. J., Hirschberg, A. L., & Bermon, S. (2018). Circulating Testosterone as the Hormonal Basis of Sex Differences in Athletic Performance. Endocrine Reviews, 39(5), 803–829. Retrieved June 2021 from https://doi.org/10.1210/er.2018-00020 
  2.  NPAG Guidelines: https://www.healthhub.sg/sites/assets/Assets/PDFs/HPB/PhysicalAct