SINGAPORE - A new walking trail launched Sunday in the Bedok neighbourhood of Kampong Chai Chee is proof that exercise can be simple and right on your doorstep.
The Health Promotion Board (HPB) is hoping to convey the message that using the trail will bring health benefits to residents.
The trail, marked by colourful decals with health tips, winds around 11 blocks of flats, passing void decks and making use of existing paths such as covered walkways and road pavements.
It also connects amenities such as a food centre, school and playground.
The idea is to encourage residents to make exercise part of their daily routine as they traverse their own neighbourhood.
MP for East Coast GRC Lee Yi Shyan joined 250 residents of all ages on the 2km trail yesterday morning.
A shorter 1.3km route is also an option.
Mr Lee, who is also Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development, first mooted the idea in February.
He said: "I was thinking about what we can do, within the estate, to promote a healthy lifestyle."
Contrary to perceptions, he said, exercise need not be "long, boring or expensive", but "can be combined with our everyday routines".
HPB chief executive officer Ang Hak Seng was especially concerned about a specific group of residents: the elderly.
Not nearly enough of the elderly in Singapore exercise regularly to stay healthy, he said.
According to the board, their worries about safety keep them indoors.
To allay their fears, the new trail has been specially designed for them. Narrow pavements along the trail were widened, slopes made gentler, and the decals on the ground are anti-slip.
HPB intends to partner 10 other constituencies to build more walking trails in public estates by 2014.
This effort is driven by the HPB's concern that Singaporeans' sedentary lifestyles are leading to higher rates of obesity and associated health problems, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Less than half of Singaporeans between 18 and 69 years old exercise for leisure, the National Health Survey 2010 revealed.
Kampong Chai Chee resident Chuan Keng Keat, 39, said he would take his three young children for walks on the new trail.
The engineer said that the trail's proximity to homes should convince his neighbours to use it.
But 75-year-old resident Chia Choon was less sure. The lorry driver said in Mandarin: "I leave home at about 7am and return late at night. It's difficult to find time."
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