General interest (3): Exercise – a great way to keep fit and healthy

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Announcement from Sri Zuraida, committee member of Brisk Walking Club (Southeast District) of the Siglap Community Centre

The Muslim exercise group’s “outing” to Marina Barrage on Sunday, 29 March has been postponed until further notice as a mark of respect for Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s passing away and of his funeral services that Sunday afternoon.  

Singapore has lost a great leader.  The late Mr Lee’s remarkable leadership, deep dedication and immense contributions to Singapore’s development as well as ensuring the nation’s stability, security, peace and harmony will always be remembered and cherished by all Singaporeans.

We members of the Muslim exercise group of the Club express our heart-felt condolences to his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, for the loss of his father who is a well-respected founding father of Singapore, a man of wisdom and kindness.  His long-lasting legacy remains for us to draw lessons from it. 

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Exercise:  A great way to keep 

fit and healthy

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Islam encourages us to make efforts to keep our body and mind active and healthy.  Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said that a strong believer is better than a weak one.  This advice not only refers to our faith but also indicates that physical strength is important.  Health is more vital than wealth. With this belief in mind, in November last year (2014), a group of enterprising Muslim volunteers of the Brisk Walking Club (Southeast District) of the Siglap Community Centre formed a Muslim exercise group under the wing of the Club.

The membership, which is free of charge, has thus far been encouraging.

Encik Yacob Hussain, Chairman of the Brisk-walking Club of the Centre, explaining the idea of mooting the Muslim exercise group, said: “Many Muslims in the neighbourhood preferred a separate all-Muslim exercise group for convenience, like timing and wearing of the hijab.  But that does not mean that non-Muslims cannot join the Muslim group.  They are most welcome.”

Exercise has numerous benefits.  It increases muscle tone, offers flexibility, enhances endurance, strengthens the heart and fights depression.  Other benefits include reduction of weight and fat and improvement of bone density and mental health.

“Many Muslims do not exercise,” said Encik Mohd Saufi Zainal, a committee member who actively helps out during the weekly Muslim group’s exercise gathering. “Actually it is very necessary for Muslims to keep fit and healthy as we have lots of ibadah to do.  We do prayers five times a day, fasting for a month each year, and there is the Haj and Umrah which are strenuous.  All these activities require a Muslim to be fit and healthy, then only we can do our ibadah properly.”

Yes, exercising regularly ought to be an integral part of our Islamic lifestyle.

Among the 40 odd members in the Muslim exercise group is Cik Khairon, mother of two married children.  She was yanked into the group by her neighbourhood friends, Cik Sapina and Cik Salama, both mothers of adult children, who had joined the group last December.

The group, however, has more women.  “Encourage your husband to join us.  Tell him nicely or kiss him sweetly to make him get up from the bed or sofa and come together here,” Encik Yacob frequently urged the ladies after the cooling down exercise, the final activity of the weekly Sunday morning brisk-walk.

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Encik Yacob, a participant of the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Programme (SSEAYP) 1995, displayed his pleasant smile and added jokingly: “But, if your husband is adamant and lazy, pull him here by his ear.”

He was not doing mere preaching. He practises what he preaches. His wife, a Japanese, whom he met and courted during his active days with SSEAYP, is in the group.  So are their two children.

Cik Sapina and Cik Khairon took Encik Yacob’s advice seriously, and invited their husbands.  The two retired gentlemen seemed to know the benefits of exercising. They needn’t have to be coaxed or pulled by their ears.  They readily joined the group and came along with their wives, and they have not missed any session so far.

The whole exercise session, conducted by Encik Najib Ahmad, lasts for about an hour and a half from 7 am, beginning with about 15 minutes of warming-up exercises at the compound of the Siglap Community Centre.

Immediately after the warming-up stretching exercises begins the brisk-walk, starting and ending at the Centre.

The cooling-down exercises took about 15 minutes, sometimes with innovative moves suggested by the participants, like playing volleyball, kicking a football, swimming and throwing boxing punches.

Encik Najib, whose wife is also in the group, says that warming-up and cooling-down exercises are important. He explained: “The warm-up exercises prepare your body before a workout, in our case the brisk-walking. They increase blood circulation throughout your body. Your heart rate increases gradually. Your muscles become more flexible.  These reduces the chances of injury to your muscles and joints when you begin to do the brisk-walk.”

He added: “After the brisk-walk, cooling down will help to reduce muscle soreness.”

The brisk-walk covers a distance of about 3 km, along the neighbourhood walk-paths and pavements, and meandering around some landmarks using different routes each week.

“Anyone who has the stamina and could walk fast may cover the route twice,” Encik Najib informed the participants before the start of each brisk-walking session.  He himself usually accomplished two rounds.

After the cooling down exercises, there is “breakfast” for the participants.

Cik Sri Zuraida, another volunteer committee member of the Club, who takes down the participants’ attendance, is also in charge of the distribution of the “breakfast” which generally consist of a bottle of mineral water, apples, oranges and bananas and other healthy tid-bits, all supplied by the Club.

Also given free to every participant are two items, the Club’s light-blue tee-shirt with its logo and a cap, especially for the men as the women wear the tudung.

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What is even more exciting is the “outing” held once in two months. “We usually hire a coach and go to some interesting places for our exercises. The outing also serves to build up closer rapport and comradeship among the participants,” pointed out Cik Sri.  “Last month we went to Changi Point, and after our routine exercises, we had a hearty breakfast of roti prata.”

Cik Sri said that the first “outing” was held in January.  “For this month (March), we are going to the Marina Barrage and spend the whole morning there.  Again transport and breakfast will be provided,” she added.

In reminding the participants of the Marina Barrage trip, Encik Yacob announced: “As the number of members going this time is overwhelming, two buses would be hired for the trip. Also, apart from the usual exercises to be performed there, we would hold activities like kite-making and kite-flying.”

Participants are anxiously awaiting for the “outing” this Sunday.

Shaik Kadir

22 March 2015

(Reposted this article on 27 Mar 2015 with the announcement by Cik Sri Zuraida of the postponement of the “outing” this Sunday, 29 March, to a later date.)

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