Hong Kong actor Liu Dan shares his fitness secrets

PHOTO: Hong Kong actor Liu Dan shares his fitness secrets

What do you do to keep fit?

I play golf at least twice a week.

I also play tennis twice a week for one or two hours each time, depending on my schedule.

What is your secret to looking so fabulous?

I don't go to the gym or do muscle building.

When I was filming action movies in my younger days, I used to exercise every day for an hour, which built up my muscles.

The action movies I filmed include The Legend Of The Condor Heroes and The Return Of The Condor Heroes.

I love outdoor activities and used to play football, as well as go swimming and diving.

That's how I managed to get a fit body and I am maintaining it now.

Has there ever been a time when you were not fit and fab?

When I was in my 30s, I fell and broke my back while filming.

I lay in a hospital bed and could not move. My fitness level dropped.

Till now, that injury still affects my movements.

Recently, I also gained some weight because I was excited about my granddaughter's birth. During the few months before her birth,

I neglected to exercise.

Instead, I spent a lot of time at home with my family, having meals with them, which I previously skipped to play golf or tennis.

I wanted to monitor and make sure my daughter-in-law finished the herbal soups or meals which my wife prepared for her.

What is your diet like?

My breakfast is usually a bowl of oatmeal. For lunch, it's rice with a larger portion of vegetables and a smaller one of meat.

I have the same thing for dinner and don't have tea and supper.

What are your indulgences?

I love spicy dishes and like curry the most.

When I am in Singapore or Malaysia, I will always order nasi lemak. When I eat char kway teow here, I will ask for more cockles and chilli.

What is your work like and does it make it difficult for you to keep fit?

I have a busy working life and it can sometimes be difficult to set aside time for exercise.

However, I do make it a point to exercise, even if it is for just an hour at the golf driving range.

What do you do to relax and how do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?

Taking care of my granddaughter, who was born in June, helps me relax. Playing with her makes me feel content with my life.

I also enjoy sports a lot. It has always been a part of my life.

I started playing football in my primary school days and went on to play tennis, scuba dive, wind-surf and ride horses.

I had a trainer for horse riding. When I was younger, it was important for me to learn to ride a horse as I needed to do that for the period dramas I was acting in.

Ten years ago, I started playing golf. I believe that to maintain an active lifestyle, you have to start young.

Otherwise, when age catches up, it may be too difficult and you may also have become too lazy.

Even though I'm 71 now, I still like to do sports or exercise.

I have always allocated two or three days a week for exercise.

However, when my granddaughter was born, I stopped exercising and visited a weight-loss treatment centre in Hong Kong which helps me to keep my weight in check without having to spend as much time on exercise.

I know it's a short cut. I use it as a stop-gap measure until I can find time to exercise again.

What are the three most important things in your life?

My family is the most important, especially having recently become a grandfather. I want to spend time with my family.

My health is also important. By staying healthy, the people around me will be happy as well.

Lastly, I think my career is important too, as I enjoy my work.

Would you go for plastic surgery and why?

No. At this age, I don't think plastic surgery is for me.

Do you think you're sexy?

I don't think so and I don't think others around me or my fans think so either.

I think I'm seen more as a "serious" person.

wanching@sph.com.sg

Background story

BIO BOX

Liu Dan

AGE: 71

HEIGHT: 1.68m

WEIGHT: 76kg

Hong Kong actor Liu Dan, seen most recently in his long career playing patriarchal figures on TV, credits acting for his active life.

"Acting involves a lot of commitment, practice, dedication and perseverance," he said.

Because of acting, he had to learn all kinds of sport, including boxing, horse-riding and diving.

However, it takes hard work to keep fit with a work schedule which can stretch to 15 hours a day.

"I need to have the determination to set aside time for exercise, even if it is for only a short while," he said.

When that is not possible, he turns to weight-loss alternatives.

One of these is a treatment from Hong Kong, which was recently introduced in Singapore by weight-management chain Mence. It is a patented weight-loss system, which uses electrical stimulators to train muscles.

The electrical impulses stimulate the body's metabolic rate and supposedly help to burn off fat.

However, there is little scientific evidence to indicate that electrical stimulation is effective in weight management, warned exercise physiologist Ray Loh, who works at the sports medicine and surgery clinic at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Electrical stimulation does increase muscular contractions and may help to increase the intensity when used together with a workout session, he said.

However, to build strength, power, functionality, bone health and cardiovascular fitness, jogging and resistance training, such as weight lifting, is still the most effective and proven way, said Mr Loh.

Liu Dan says he goes for the treatment only when he is stressed at work or does not have the energy to exercise after long filming hours.

"I can sleep throughout the session," he said.

He and his wife have a son aged 39 years old, Hawick Lau, also an actor, who is married to Chinese actress Yang Mi, 27.

This article was first published on July 24, 2014. Get a copy of Mind Your Body, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.