Malaysians need to shape up

Malaysians need to shape up


By POLA SINGH

MALAYSIANS need to shape up their overall attitude towards physical activities and their eating habits. While there seems to be an increasing awareness of the need to exercise and have a healthy diet, few Malaysians really take the trouble to do it seriously on a regular basis, including senior citizens.

With no concerted effort to remind Malaysians on the importance of exercising and developing good eating habits, few seem to give this aspect of life any serious attention until it is too late.

In the midst of the rapid economic development and transformation of the country and the increasing hectic pace of life, the time allocated to physical activities seem to have taken a back seat. What a pity. Long working hours seem to be the norm. Some retirees prefer to lead a sedentary life; they spend hours in front of the TV, their laptops and iPad.

After a long and stressful working day, many Malaysians prefer to use their iPad or laptop to check the latest on the social networks such as Facebook and Whatsapp, rather than put on their jogging shoes to work out a sweat. Rising to the top in the least possible time seems to be the passion; nothing else matters, not even their health. Engaging in pleasurable activities such as eating excessively is preferred, too.

Excuses for not exercising are plentiful; most claim they don’t have the time or have little inclination towards physical activity while others blame the hot weather or come up with other flimsy excuses.

Sooner or later, and certainly in old age, health will become the dominating problem for everybody. Without indulging in any sporting activities at an early age and not being careful of dietary concerns can result in disastrous effects in the long term. But then, how many of us really think of our health 10 or 20 years down the road?

You reap what you sow.

Little do Malaysians realise that ill health will eventually catch up with them and the consequent illness (such as diabetes, hypertension, heart-related illnesses – all the lifestyle diseases) is going to interrupt and interfere with their everyday lives; it may become a dominating problem which will require much of their time, money and attention, not forgetting the pain, stress and strain they have to endure.

We realise the consequences only after we fall victim to the ailment, by which time it is often too late.

The body may be too weak to respond to all the best medical care, medication and exercise as much damage has already been done. We then regret not having done this and that but never make a serious effort to do so.

It is still not too late to start changing our lifestyles by exercising.

With fewer than 10% of Malaysians exercising regularly and the rest leading sedentary lives, there is a strong case for getting the message across loud and clear to the masses: that regular exercise, at whatever age (even brisk walking on a regular basis) and eating right can stave off disease and infirmities of old age.

In this regard, the Ministry of Youth and Sports recently-launched “FitMalaysia” campaign is welcomed and should be fully supported by all. It is a timely move and indeed a strong push to get Malaysians off the couch and start exercising, especially the working population and retirees. Kudos to the Minister of Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin, for this initiative which hopefully can be sustained in the long term.

God helps those who help themselves; we need to change our lifestyles; remember that if we do not help ourselves, nobody else will.

In addition to exercise, keep reminding yourself to move away from the unhealthy diet that has too much fat, sugar or salt.

Key medical stakeholders such as doctors can play a vital role by getting the message across to their patients of the need to be active. Part of the prescription should be regular exercise and proper intake of the right quantity and quality of food. In fact, doctors should make it a standard operating procedure to advise their patients on the benefits of physical activities on their overall health and wellbeing.

On a macro basis, the country needs a productive workforce and this is possible if Malaysians remain healthy. We are already experiencing severe labour shortage. A population easily vulnerable to sickness and diseases can be expensive for the nation. We can ill afford such impediments in our quest to achieve the developed country status by 2020.

Only a healthy and productive workforce with a heathy lifestyle and diet will ensure the economic transformation of our country is achieved as planned.

For the elderly who have yet to engage in any form of regular exercise, this is a timely reminder that it is never too late to start exercising as it will bring enormous benefits. Perhaps a slow walk with a friend or your spouse would be a good start. Stay active to lead a quality life.

It is well documented that not exercising – across all ages – is not an option.

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