Singapore, much like many developed nations, has witnessed an increasing trend in obesity over the past few decades. Urbanization, a shift towards sedentary lifestyles, increased consumption of processed and calorie-dense foods, and decreased physical activity have contributed to this rise. Yet, beneath the rich tapestry of flavors offered, there lurks a hidden adversary: excessive salt. The nation’s palate, leaning towards the savory, might be contributing more to its health concerns than most realize. Nevertheless, there are proactive steps we can implement to address this issue, such as engaging in martial arts.
Salt Consumption In Singapore
Singaporeans’ love for food is evident in the hawker centers, restaurants, and food courts that dot the city. However, a concerning pattern emerges when we delve into the dietary habits of its people. Data from Singapore’s Health Promotion Board indicates that the average Singaporean consumes around 9 grams of salt per day, which is more than double the recommended limit set by the World Health Organization (WHO) at 5 grams per day. And in a recent CNA article, it was reported that 9 in 10 Singapore residents exceeded the daily recommended intake of one teaspoon of salt.
Linking Salt And Obesity
While salt doesn’t directly cause weight gain, its impact on our dietary choices can be profound. Salty foods often lead to an increased feeling of thirst. Ironically, many quench this thirst with sugary drinks, which are packed with empty calories. Furthermore, high salt content is often found in processed and fast foods – notorious culprits in the obesity epidemic due to their high caloric and low nutritional values. The combination of excessive salt leading to poor food and beverage choices can indirectly contribute to weight gain and, in turn, obesity.
Obesity In Singapore
Obesity is no longer just a problem of the West. Rapid urbanization, sedentary lifestyles, and changing dietary patterns have made obesity a growing concern in Singapore. As of recent data, nearly 1 in 4 Singaporeans aged 18 to 69 are overweight, with the prevalence of obesity having increased notably in the past decades.
The Worrying Trend
Historical data and statistics from the Ministry of Health (MOH) Singapore highlight the escalating issue.
- The National Health Survey in 2010 reported that around 11% of Singaporeans aged 18-69 were obese. This percentage rose to approximately 14% in the National Health Survey 2020.
- Obesity rates were higher among Malays and Indians compared to Chinese, reflecting the ethnic disparities in obesity risk.
- The prevalence of obesity-related conditions like Type 2 Diabetes was also on the rise.
Causes Of Obesity
- Dietary Habits: The modern diet often includes high-calorie foods that are rich in fats and sugars but low in vital nutrients. Consuming more calories than the body can use leads to weight gain.
- Physical Inactivity: Sedentary lifestyles mean fewer calories are burned, leading to weight gain and fat accumulation.
- Genetics: Some people may be genetically predisposed to gaining weight.
- Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, like hypothyroidism or can cause weight gain.
- Medications: Some medicines can lead to weight gain as a side effect.
- Psychological Factors: Stress, depression, or trauma might increase one’s propensity to overeat.
- Social and Environmental Factors: Peer pressure or residing in neighborhoods with limited healthy food options can influence eating patterns.
How Muay Thai Can Help
With so many factors in place, it is paramount for everyone to keep their salt intake in check. One of the best ways to balance out a high sodium intake, as well as obesity is regular exercise. Engaging in regular exercise can be an effective strategy to combat the negative effects of both.
But of course, if you’re looking for more than just regular exercises, Muay Thai might just be the perfect sport for you to engage in. Also known as the “Art of Eight Limbs‘, Muay Thai utilizes the fists, elbows, knees, and shins, is an intense cardiovascular workout that can be beneficial in combating obesity.
- Calorie Burn: A typical Muay Thai session can burn between 600 to 800 calories or even more depending on the intensity. This helps create a calorie deficit, which is essential for weight loss.
- Muscle Building: Muay Thai isn’t just about cardio. It also helps build and tone muscles. Muscles consume more energy, even at rest, which means a muscular person burns more calories throughout the day.
- Discipline And Routine: Regular training instills discipline, which can help individuals maintain a consistent workout schedule and make healthier lifestyle choices.
- Improved Metabolism: High-intensity workouts, like Muay Thai, can increase metabolic rate, aiding faster calorie burn.
- Community Support: Joining a Muay Thai gym provides an individual with a supportive community that encourages maintaining an active lifestyle and adopting healthier habits.
Now that you know how beneficial Muay Thai is, you can pair it up with different exercises such as calisthenics or strength training, and before you know it, you’re in a routine that actively combats obesity. Perhaps you’re worried about the costs and traveling to and fro from a martial arts gym to a regular gym. Fret not as Evolve MMA has facilities for both martial arts and weights for a regular workout.
Boasting 20,000 sq ft at the Far East Square outlet, it is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities to help with your work out. Furthermore, Evolve MMA offers a WarriorFit program. Based on the strength and conditioning exercises of professional fighters, the Evolve WarriorFit Program will improve your fitness through a series of high-intensity workouts and exercises, conducted in a safe, fun, and supportive environment.
Combining both martial arts and regular exercise can definitely prove beneficial to your health, here are the benefits of engaging in exercise:
1) Blood Pressure Regulation:
- High Salt Diet Effect: A diet high in salt is linked to raised blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
- Exercise Impact: Regular physical activity can help reduce blood pressure in those with hypertension. Exercise strengthens the heart, allowing it to pump blood with less effort, leading to decreased force on the arteries and a decrease in blood pressure. It also helps in dilating blood vessels and improving blood flow.
2) Enhanced Metabolic Rate:
- Obesity Effect: Obesity slows down the metabolic rate, making it harder for the body to burn calories at rest.
- Exercise Impact: Exercise, especially strength training, increases lean muscle mass. Muscles burn more calories than fat, even during rest, which means a person with more muscle mass has a higher resting metabolic rate.
3) Improved Insulin Sensitivity:
- Obesity Effect: Obesity can lead to insulin resistance, where the body’s cells don’t respond properly to insulin, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Exercise Impact: Physical activity, especially aerobic exercises like walking, running, or cycling, enhances insulin sensitivity. This means that, after exercise, your body needs less insulin to process the glucose in your bloodstream.
4) Weight Management:
- High Salt & Obesity Effect: High salt intake can cause water retention, leading to temporary weight gain. Obesity, on the other hand, is long-term excessive weight due to an accumulation of fat.
- Exercise Impact: Engaging in regular physical activity helps burn calories, which, when combined with a balanced diet, can lead to weight loss. Losing weight (even just a small percentage) can dramatically improve health outcomes and reduce the risk of associated conditions.
5) Appetite Regulation:
- Obesity Effect: Hormonal imbalances linked to obesity can disrupt appetite regulation, leading to overeating.
- Exercise Impact: Physical activity can help regulate appetite hormones, like ghrelin (which signals hunger) and leptin (which signals fullness). Some studies have shown that aerobic exercises can reduce hunger by suppressing ghrelin levels.
6) Fluid Balance:
- High Salt Diet Effect: Excessive salt intake causes the body to retain water, leading to bloating and swelling.
- Exercise Impact: Sweating during exercise helps the body get rid of excess salt and can rebalance fluid levels in the body.
- Obesity Effect: Obesity is sometimes linked to mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.
- Exercise Impact: Regular exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. It can also reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve overall mental well-being.
In conclusion, while Singapore faces challenges with rising obesity rates, adopting activities like Muay Thai offers a holistic approach to combat the issue. Regular exercise serves as a powerful tool to counteract the negative effects of a high salt diet and obesity. Combining both dietary changes and exercise is the best strategy for holistic health improvement. Not only does it provide the physical benefits of weight loss and muscle toning, but it also instills discipline and provides a supportive community to help individuals on their fitness journey.
Start Martial Arts Today!
If you are inspired to start, why not check out Evolve MMA? Named as the #1 ranked martial arts organization in Asia, Evolve MMA aims to deliver the best martial arts instruction available anywhere in the world. Ranked as the best Muay Thai gym in Singapore, Evolve takes great pride in having a world-class Muay Thai program for students wishing to learn Muay Thai in Singapore. And while you are at it, check out our Evolve WarriorFit program as well. The primary goal of WarriorFit is to get you into the best shape of your life using movements and conditioning exercises from various martial arts disciplines. If you’re thinking about how to lose fat, improve your fitness or build muscles, then Martial Arts is for you!
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