A recent study revealed that nearly one in three Singaporeans has contracted not Covid-19, but Covid-5 – an extra 5kg during the pandemic.
Some, however, managed to keep the weight off by maintaining a healthy exercise regimen.
When circuit-breaker measures shut down gyms last April, full-time national serviceman Clement Lee found himself stuck in a rut.
For about a month, his daily routine consisted of playing video games, sleeping, drinking alcohol and plenty of snacking.
As a result, he put on about 4kg, tipping the scales at 98 kg.
Mr Lee is 1.8m tall.
To recapture some sense of normalcy, he began taking long walks of up to 10km at a nearby park. He would watch films on his phone while he walked.
“I would pick a movie on Netflix I wanted to watch and just keep walking until the movie ended.
“It didn’t matter if I didn’t sweat – it felt good that I was doing something,” said the 22-year-old.
He gradually began integrating more exercises into his routine, and once gyms were allowed to reopen, he reverted to form.
“I started shedding kilos and gaining back some muscle mass, so I felt a lot stronger and better about myself,” he said.
In the study conducted by marketing research firm Ipsos, 30 per cent of 500 Singaporeans aged 21 to 74 said they had gained an average of 4.8kg during the pandemic.
Fitness experts said it is important to keep moving by choosing an activity one enjoys.
Professor Michael Chia, an expert on physical education and paediatric exercise physiology at the National Institute of Education, said people should get up and move for five to 10 minutes every hour or so, to avoid being sedentary for long stretches of time.
Studies have also shown that one’s health benefits from “exercise snacks”, or short bouts of exercise throughout the day, such as squats, stretches and short dance routines.
Dr Shauna Sim, registrar at the Sports and Exercise Medicine Centre, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, said these short spells of exercise are a good way to get active.
“It may be hard for us to set aside 30 minutes at one go for exercise, but finding multiple five-to 10-minute intervals throughout the day for short sessions of physical activity would be more achievable,” she added.
But to improve overall fitness and physical health, regular exercise is key.
How to take exercise breaks during work
Many of us are working from home amid the Covid-19 pandemic, so it has become not only easier, but also more important, to incorporate small exercise breaks into our daily routine.
Dr Shauna Sim, registrar at the Sports and Exercise Medicine Centre, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, shares some tips.
Taking into account the time gained by not commuting, it is a good idea to slot in a short exercise session before or after work.
Dr Sim suggests roping in family members who may also be working from home, as exercising together can encourage commitment.
If the living space does not allow for lots of movement, static exercises such as jumping jacks, sit-ups or even jogging on the spot can be easy exercises to start with.
To level up, add some resistance training by using light weights. Household items such as filled water bottles can be used if no dumbbells or weight bars are available.
Leg and calf raises, stair climbing and stretching are also good ways to take short breaks from work.
Dr Sim noted that some have opted to modify their work stations to allow for more exercise during the day.
For instance, it is possible to replace an office chair with a Swiss ball, which can be used during exercise breaks.
Sitting on a Swiss ball can help strengthen one’s core by engaging the abdominal and back muscles to retain balance.
Having a height-adjustable work desk can also encourage standing up more frequently throughout the day.
Text: Cheryl Tan/The Straits Times