SINGAPORE – A revised set of Singapore Physical Activity Guidelines aimed at encouraging people to engage in a variety of activities and reducing sedentary lifestyles was launched by Sport Singapore (SportSG) and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) on Sunday June 12.
Developed by experts in the medical and health fields, the guidelines aim to encourage Singaporeans to build aerobic fitness, muscle strength, bone strength, flexibility and balance through different activities.
But improving all these aspects doesn’t necessarily mean a trip to the gym or the park. These activities can also be incorporated into their daily lives. For example, walking around to pick up food instead of having it delivered.
These guidelines were launched in 2011 and the revised version, which is also based on the 2020 recommendations of the World Health Organization, also includes guidelines for different age groups, pregnant and postpartum women as well than people with disabilities (PWD).
A notable change concerns the recommended duration of activities for adults. Previous guidelines called for adults to accumulate 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week with a minimum of 10 minutes each time. But that was changed to a target range of 150-300 minutes per week with no minimum threshold, because activities of any duration, with no minimum threshold, are found to be associated with benefits.
Dr. Benedict Tan, senior adviser to the guidelines advisory committee, said these recommendations are more holistic and comprehensive.
“With more awareness now, we can be more specific. (Besides cardiovascular or aerobic fitness), there are other aspects of health or fitness that are just as important. Cardio is a great start. , but that’s not the end of it all,” said Dr. Tan, director of the SingHealth Duke-NUS Sports and Exercise Medicine Center.
He also noted that while more people are exercising, the number of people with chronic conditions such as diabetes has also increased slightly.
Studies have shown that getting enough physical activity reduces the risk of developing these conditions, cardiovascular disease and various cancers.
Having this approach will therefore be in line with the country’s move towards preventive care.
“We tracked physical activity levels and they increased…but not enough,” he added. “The other issue is people who really need to be active. This segment tends to be quite stubborn and the numbers aren’t growing as much as we would like.
“What happens is that those who are already active become more active, but the sedentary ones remained sedentary. For this release, we needed a fresh approach to targeting them.”
According to the National Population Health Survey 2020, 76.4% of Singapore residents aged 18-74 had sufficient total physical activity (high and moderate) – related to work, transport and leisure – compared to 80.1% in 2019 and 80.9 percent in 2017.
The survey also found that 33.4% exercised regularly – an increase from 29.4% in 2017 – while 42.9% did not exercise at all.
About one in 10 (9.5%) suffered from diabetes mellitus during the period from 2019 to 2020, compared to 8.8% in 2017.