Monday 5 May 2014

Health and Fitness - a culture or government policy

On a recent visit to Singapore, a news item caught my attention. The Government of Singapore was giving a grant of SGD 100 to all citizens and permanent residents to invest in sporting and fitness activities. This was to be facilitated by Sport Singapore (a statutory board of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth) through its venture ActiveSG. And this is not just for the young. It's for people of all ages.

to know about ActiveSG

How about that. Here is a Government not just setting up sport and fitness facilities but actually encouraging its people to use those facilities and be healthy and fit. There is a vision to see all residents in good health. Good health means lesser expenses on healthcare.

Another thing that I noticed were the fitness and sporting facilities in the apartment complexes (having anywhere between 100 to 1000 apartments) and whether built by the Housing Development Board (HDB) or a private developer. Almost all had at least a full size swimming pool, tennis courts, gym, children's play area and even squash courts and open walking spaces. You can be rich or poor but enjoy almost the same basic facilities when it comes to fitness. Of course if you are living in a detached house of your own, you may have to step out of your compound to enjoy them.

Most developers here will give you a wading pool, a couple of treadmills for a gym and a 1000 square feet garden for an open area to walk and jog on.

Do we see this happening in our country. It's a Yes and a No. Yes for the sports facilities (read stadiums and anything that can be built under a concrete canopy) that all politicians are interested in setting up and no for anybody using them. For any grant that is available there is always a way of claiming it without putting it for its intended use.

For some reason sport and fitness are neither part of our culture nor lifestyle. There is emphasis on studying and working and not on playing any sport or games involving physical activity. You play games/sport as a child in school. As you grow you have to focus on your grades and career. A sport is wastage of time. There is greater emphasis on earning money and supporting the family (including extended family) rather than wasting time on physical fitness. In the adult stage, none of us really get into physical fitness till a doctor informs us of lying in bed in a vegetative state for the rest of our lives as an alternative to not being fit and healthy.

Honestly I do not see the government do anything about it. Forget grants for gym memberships, you will be lucky if your child gets a larger than a saucer play area. After all how many of our "leaders" or potential lawmakers promised you healthy lifestyles in the present elections.

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