The picture shows elderly women dancing.

1.Would you like to take part in an activity like this?

YES

Yes, I definitely would take part in such an activity if I ever got the chance. As someone who is known to break out into spontaneous dancing, a public dance fits my outgoing and extroverted personality like a glove.

Dancing is fun because of the sheer physicality of it, as the intense and rhythmic movement releases endorphins and can serve as a pick-me-up after a dreary school day.

I also enjoy dancing because it is such a social activity. I often meet new friends through dancing. These kinds of dances break down the social distance between people and can bring people closer. People who normally wouldn’t associate with each other can bond over their common love of dance.

Dancing is also a helpful way to express myself. I am a kinaesthetic person, so, sometimes, instead of talking, dancing is a good way to communicate feelings that are difficult for me to put into words. Through dancing, I can communicate emotion and feeling on a different level, which is comforting.

I would definitely take part in this activity, because it is good exercise and a great way to meet new people.

 

NO

From the picture, I can guess that they are seasoned dancers. They seem quite coordinated, twisting their arms and pivoting on the spot in tandem with each other. Since most of them look Chinese, I would hazard a guess that this is square dancing or plaza dancing. In China, this is a common exercise routine.

Honestly, if I were presented with such an opportunity, I would feel a little intimidated. As someone who is notorious for having two left feet, I intensely dislike dancing. Getting all sweaty and whirling about on the dancefloor is not my idea of fun.

I would be out of my league dancing with people who know these dance routine like the back of their hand. Furthermore, I have seen videos of square dances online, and the music of choice is often anachronistic, like techno or folk songs that suit the tastes of elderly folk. Without a doubt, an activity like this is not my cup of tea.

2.Is it important to exercise with your friends?

YES

Yes, I think it is important to exercise with friends. Friends turn a boring grind of exercise routines into a cheerful activity, making for a positive mind-set and a fruitful workout.

There is also safety in numbers. For example, having an exercise buddy adds a measure of safety. Should I fall badly while jogging and injure myself, having a friend to come to my aid is reassuring. My friend could support me on the way to the clinic, or in a dire situation, apply first aid and help stabilise the wound, or talk to me and keep me conscious before emergency services arrived.

In a different scenario, exercise at night would also be safer, as running in groups for example would decrease the likelihood of getting mugged.

Of course, I sometimes feel that exercising with friends can end up becoming a hangout session without any actual training, but as long as we agree in advance on a goal, we do get some exercise in the end!

 

NO

While friends add atmosphere and fun, I would rather exercise alone. Having friends over can be distracting, or even dangerous.

I feel that they ultimately subtract from the experience when it comes to exercise. When I exercise, I am serious about it and exert myself intensely, while friends might prefer to take things slower and just have fun. I believe exercise is about a personal struggle against the body, a test of mind over matter. The social aspect of group exercise might become more important than pushing oneself, especially when there is a large difference in fitness levels.

Moreover, a workout with friends can quickly devolve into an unhealthy competition, where each of us tries to out-do the other, when the point of the workout was to get fit. In a worst-cast scenario, we could grossly overestimate our own abilities and stress the body beyond its capabilities, leading to severe injury which could even persist in the long term.

I do understand that there is safety in numbers, but I feel that I take adequate care in planning my workouts to prevent any accidents.

3.Do you think your country could have done more to promote exercise?

Currently, Singapore uses a multi-prong approach to promote exercise, involving both positive and negative reinforcement.

For example, Singapore hosts many marathons. I myself am an amateur marathoner, participating in the Standard Chartered 10KM run with my father and older brother. I think it is a great way to promote exercise as people will gear up for the event through regular training. The marathons are also framed as social events with group sign up discounts, which serves as further incentive. I think Singapore is doing well on this front.

$100 worth of ActiveSG credits are also distributed to Singaporeans for booking exercise facilities, which does help increase the number of casual swimmers, badminton players and the like. In my opinion, monetary incentives are always well-received by the public.

The Health Promotion Board (HPB) promotes healthy living through regular exercise on social networking sites like Twitter and Instagram, as well as airing video and audio advertisements. While these advertisements ensure that the HPB’s message stays in the minds of the public, I don’t think they are as effective as the steps tracker. People are desensitised to scare tactics about diabetes or osteoporosis, and are especially distrustful of advertisements which also tout health products. Perhaps the advertisements need more work.

There’s a Healthy 365 smartphone app that comes with a free steps tracker, which is surprisingly well designed and reliable. It comes with a rudimentary points system that is still undeveloped, yet has the potential to really encourage people, if properly tied to incentives like discount coupons. I also think that the higher age restriction of 17 years should be lowered to 13 years to encourage exercise in early teens, however, I understand that there are budgetary concerns. On the whole, I think that this approach is helpful as it helps the public become more informed about their health, but the programme is still nascent and has room for improvement.

All in all, Singapore does make a concerted effort to promote exercise.