Malaysians falling short on exercise targets, here’s how to beat it

Make exercise a habit, not an excuse

03 May 2024 05:39pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM – In today's fast-paced world, finding the motivation to exercise regularly can often feel like an insurmountable challenge.

A survey in 2020 shows a total of 53.9 per cent of Malaysians engage in at least one physical activity to keep fit, but it remains insufficient.

Experts said that the survey conducted by the Statistics Department (DOSM) indicates that this level of activity fails to fully capitalise on the benefits of exercise.

The World Health Organisation recommends at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week – which means it will only take 30 minutes a day for five days a week.

LAC Malaysia certified nutritionist Cynthia Jetan said that often, one would use the excuse of not having the energy to exercise once a week but on the contrary, the more active an individual is, the more energy he or she will have.

Instead, if an individual usually lacks energy, Jetan said it is time to relook one’s sleep habits.

“Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality can significantly affect energy levels and motivation. Sleep after all aids in recovery.

“Naturally, the better you sleep, the more energy you’ll have the next day.

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“Also, pay attention to your diet as diet lacking in essential nutrients, usually from too much processed or fast foods, can cause fatigue and low energy.

“While calories provide energy, vitamins and minerals are needed to effectively process it,” says Cynthia.

She recommended a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet with complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats to provide a steady source of energy and sustain endurance, proteins and antioxidants to speed up recovery, as well as calcium and magnesium to help reduce cramps.

Jetan also said that hydration was important before, during and after exercise to prevent dehydration and optimise performance.

Other than that, supplements could serve as a reliable source of vital energy, for example multivitamins.

“Multivitamins provide a comprehensive blend of essential vitamins and minerals that may be lacking in our diet to ensure our body has the nutrients it needs for optimal energy production.

“Meanwhile, B complex and certain minerals play key roles in energy metabolism, converting food into fuel more efficiently to enhance energy levels for daily activities. You will also want to consider antioxidants as these support muscle repair and recovery, helping to reduce post-exercise fatigue and promote quicker recovery between workouts,” Jetan said.