Get Active

Get Active

Exercise is an essential component of healthy living. Being active has been shown to have many health benefits, both physically and mentally.

Why Exercise

The benefits of exercise include:

  • Increases HDL (“good”) cholesterol level
  • Reduces LDL (“bad”) cholesterol level
  • Helps maintain your weight within a healthy range
  • Lowers blood sugar level
  • Improves overall cardiovascular fitness
  • Boosts your mood, keeps you happy

A physically active person is approximately 30 – 50% less likely to be hypertensive and 1.5 times less likely to develop heart disease.

Conversely, lack of exercise may leave a person more vulnerable to diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

How to Start Exercising

Exercise need not be overly strenuous to confer health benefits. If exercise is not part of your daily routine yet, here are some simple tips to help you incorporate it into your life:

  • Start slow with exercising once or twice a week before building up to a frequency that you are comfortable with
  • Begin with relatively low-intensity exercises such as Tai Chi, Qigong, or walking before progressing to more vigorous activities as your fitness improves
  • Choose physical activities which you enjoy so that you will not find your exercise sessions a chore
  • Be careful not to over-exert yourself as you exercise
  • Keep moving whenever possible. Take the stairs instead of the escalator or lift. Walk to an eatery to get your meals instead of having them delivered to your doorstep

Develop an Exercise Routine

Whether you are a beginner or a fitness buff, a heart patient or a healthy individual, you can follow the FITT principle to determine your performance level for each type of exercise.

Frequency (F)

It refers to the number of days you should exercise per week. Generally, you should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. For individuals who are suited for vigorous-intensity exercises, aim for up to 70 minutes.

You are recommended to do aerobic exercise at least five times, but preferably on most days of the week. Strengthening exercises should also be performed using weights or bodyweight 2- 3 times a week, with 48 hours between each session.

For heart patients:
Heart patients are recommended to do 3-5 exercise sessions per week.

Intensity (I)
It refers to how hard you should exert during exercise. Generally, you should exercise until you sweat and breathe deeply but can still hold a conversation. If you are too breathless to talk while exercising, scale down the intensity of your workout.

You can use your target exercise heart rate range as a gauge for adjusting the intensity of your exercise.

Target Heart Rate Range for Moderate Intensity Exercise = [(220 – age) x 65%] to [(220 – age) x 75%] beats per minute

This formula can be used as a guide for beginners to intermediate individuals.

For heart patients:
Heart patients are advised to exercise at 40-60% of your heart rate reserve.

Heart Rate Reserve is the difference between your maximum heart rate (HRMax) and resting heart rate. To calculate your Heart Rate Reserve, first calculate your maximum heart rate, then subtract your heart’s resting rate.

To obtain a more accurate resting heart rate, average the sum of your resting pulse for three consecutive mornings prior to getting out of bed.

Heart Rate Maximum (HRmax) = (220 – Age) beats per minute

Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) = HRmax – Resting heart rate

Target Heart Rate Range = [(HRR x 40%) + Resting heart rate] to [(HRR x 60%) + Resting heart rate]

For example, calculating a 40-year-old heart patient’s heart rate reserve:

Heart rate reserve = (220-40) – 80 = 100 beats per minute

Target Heart Rate Range for Exercise = [(100 x 40%) + 80] to [(100 x 60%) + 80] beats per minute

The 40-year-old heart patient should target to exercise at a heart rate range between 120-140 beats per minute.

Time (T)
It refers to the duration of each exercise.

Exercise at least 20 minutes per session, with an additional 5 to 10 minutes for warming up and cooling down both before and after exercise.

You can start with a minimum of 10 minutes each time for the main exercise. Slowly aim up to at least 30 minutes if you are exercising at moderate to vigorous intensity to reap more health benefits (e.g. weight loss). The goal is to gradually work your way to exercising to an accumulative duration of 20-60 minutes.

For heart patients:
Each exercise session for heart patients should be between 20-60 minutes.

Type (T)
It is recommended that you do a mixture of aerobic and strengthening/resistance exercises.
Aerobic exercises help improve your cardiovascular system. They are rhythmic activities that use large muscles groups such as brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc.

Strengthening training helps build sufficient muscular strength and endurance needed for the efficient performance of your daily activity. It is recommended to do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps for each session, targeting eight major muscles groups, with 2-3 minutes of rest in between.

This includes:

  • the use of weights, like bicep curls and bench presses
  • bodyweight exercises, such as:
    • squats
    • push ups
    • pull ups
    • sit ups

Progression should be personalised to individual physical fitness and exercise response tolerance to prevent injuries.

Proper exercise routine

5 – 10 minutes
Dynamic stretching and body weight movements to warm up the muscles and reduce the risk of injury during exercise.
> Training
20 minutes
The main component of your exercise sessions should include aerobic and/or strengthening exercises.
> Cool-down
5 – 10 minutes
Do gentle stretches to round off the exercise session

The warm-up typically consists of 5 to 10 minutes of dynamic stretching and bodyweight movements to warm up the muscles and reduce the risk of injury during exercise. They also increase blood circulation and prepare your heart and body for the workout, minimising cardiovascular complications.

You can warm up with a combination of:

  • Light-intensity aerobic activity such as walking or marching on the spot
  • Stretching exercises, which include your upper body, trunk and legs, and gradually
    increase your pace to work towards your exercise intensity.

Following the warm-up, the main component of your exercise session should include aerobic and/or strengthening exercises.

Do at least 20 minutes, preferably 30 to 45 minutes, of continuous or discontinuous aerobic activity, followed by 15-20 minutes of strengthening exercise.

During exercise, your heart rate will increase. If you stop exercising abruptly, your heart will continue to pump rapidly, which may lead to an irregular heart rate. Blood may also pool in your legs, resulting in giddiness – because less blood returns to your heart and brain. A cool-down exercise helps to prevent all these from happening.

Do a cool-down, lasting between 5 to 10 minutes, of gentle stretches to round off the exercise session.

Exercise facilities
If you are a heart patient or have chronic diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or obesity, you can join us for cardiac rehabilitation at the Singapore Heart Foundation’s Heart Wellness Centres. Our physiotherapists and dietitians/nutritionists will provide professional guidance on exercise and dietary plans and give you the confidence and support needed to improve your cardiovascular health.

In addition, there is well-equipped and affordable access to exercise facilities available to all. Sport Singapore operates an island-wide chain of ActiveSG gymnasiums, while the People’s Association provides a wide range of sporting facilities at its Sea Sports Clubs and Community Clubs/Centres.

Tel: 6345 7111 (Main Telephone Line)

People’s Association
(for Sea Sports Clubs & Community Clubs/Centres)
Tel: 6225 5322 (Hotline)

Warm Up Exercises

Aerobics Exercises

Resistance Exercises

Cool Down Exercises