Can a brisk walk really improve your health? How do people make an effort to break sedentary behaviour and get their daily steps in when we’re so busy with work or school on most days of the week? Participants of two HPB step challenges share their journey to better health through walking.
Who: Sarah Lim, 43 Occupation: Public officer
After fracturing her ankle 10 years ago, Sarah became less active in sports as she wanted to avoid high impact activities as a result, she began to put on weight due to her sedentary lifestyle.
Last year, after hearing about someone who lost weight—15kg in three months—just by brisk walking and healthy eating, Sarah became motivated to take charge of her health again. So when a friend introduced her to the National Steps Challenge™ (NSC), she joined without hesitation and collected her free fitness tracker from the Health Promotion Board (HPB).
Despite her sedentary job, Sarah began burning calories by making the effort to break prolong sedentary time with bouts of walking throughout her day — with no sweat, literally. “I can't stand the heat. After lunch, instead of walking outside, I'd walk around the mall with my colleagues. You'll feel better after walking more, especially when you're very full.
“Sometimes, I'd also take the lift to a floor below my office and walk up the remaining flight of stairs.”
Quickly, Sarah found herself striving to achieve more. When she saw her step count, she'd think, “Oh, I actually did well — I must do better”. Gradually, she found herself doing more: “Normally I'd fall asleep at night if I sit there and watch TV, but when I was doing the Challenge, I was more motivated, and I'd be walking around at home to make sure I achieved my target.”
Today, she continues to walk daily. “There's no excuse not to do something that simple and good, and when you start, it's much easier than you'd think … as you walk more, you feel less lethargic”.
For those still unsure about stepping up to the challenge to reap the health benefits, she said: “Start small, do what you normally do, and slowly work your way up.”
Related: No Time to Clock 10,000 Steps? No Problem!
Who: Muhammad Farhan s/o Badriul Zama, 20 Occupation: Student
Every morning before Farhan leaves the house, he straps on his steps tracker to clock the number of steps he will take. On weekdays when he goes to school, he would choose to walk to and from the Woodlands MRT station to Republic Polytechnic, as a form of active commuting.
He had gotten the tracker when he signed up for one of HPB's Challenges.
An avid nature lover, he unwinds with his friends by cycling, trekking and even rock climbing. “All the stress is gone when we go to a place like Pulau Ubin. It's a quiet area, and when we go there we don't really care about all the stress, we just want to have our fun”. However, they weren't always so into sports.
“Before the Challenge, we weren't interested in going out to parks or cycling”, Farhan recounted. Instead, Farhan who juggles his studies with student council duties, would destress by snacking. But when he and his friends noticed a crowd at Republic Polytechnic queuing up to collect the steps tracker, they joined in, and haven't looked back since.
Initially, Farhan would forget to wear the tracker, but soon, he made it a habit to check his step count regularly and now even feels “strange” without the tracker on his wrist.
“We started to do active stuff because of the Challenge, and even after, we stepped it up. I really feel healthier and really happy. Since I love nature, and with the Challenge, I've been going out to many parks in Singapore which made me feel really good about how life can change with an addition of more active time,” he explained.
Besides that, he's curbed his snacking habit along the way by telling himself, “I'm working out a lot, so why would I want to waste all the time I spent on exercising for nothing?”
Farhan certainly won't be stopping anytime soon, as he continues to clock his steps daily with the tracker, even after the Challenge has concluded.
Download the HealthHub app on
Google Play or
Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.
Read these next:
This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
Benefits of Fruits: Fun Fruity Facts for Health
Eating Light At A Hawker Centre Is Possible
Getting Your Caffeine Hit
What is a Healthy Weight?
How Much Calories Do I Need A Day?
View More Programmes
Learn the right way to keep your hands clean and prevent the spread of germs. Dispel the common misconceptions of hand hygiene and start practising proper hand washing today!
A Pressure Injury resource for both patients and caregivers alike. Learn more about pressure injuries, prevention measures and how to better manage them.
Protect yourself and your loved ones from vaccine-preventable diseases like influenza and pneumococcal disease. There is no reason why anyone should suffer from the serious complications vaccine-preventable diseases can cause. Your best defence against such diseases is getting vaccinated.
Browse Live Healthy
In partnership with