Feeling good starts with you, but knowing where to begin when it comes to a personal reboot can feel overwhelming. Do you target body, mind, soul, or everything at once? Should you be upping the lunges or spending more time laying down? Does your head need a workout or two weeks in Thailand? With so much health information out there, we’ve done the legwork for you by compiling simple and practical ways to increase feelings of wellbeing as recommended by those in the know. You’re welcome. 

Soothe your nervous system

“Go for a walk, jog, or bike ride the next time you’re looking for a way to unwind. This forward motion produces an ‘optic flow’ where visual images pass by you on all sides as you move. The areas of your brain responsible for detecting fear and threats go quiet as your eyes move to engage with this flow, which in turn soothes your nervous system. The crucial aspect of this is that the optic flow is self-generated, so a Peloton or a treadmill do not qualify.”

Martine Hill, Director/Counsellor at Alliance Counselling

Don’t push through pain

“If you’re in pain, do not ‘push through’ it! Make an appointment to check it out with your GP or go straight to see an orthopaedic surgeon. Pain is your body telling you something so don’t ignore it. Oh, and don’t worry. Athough I’m a surgeon, at our clinic we try all options before resorting to surgery!”

Dr Alan Cheung, Orthopaedic Surgeon, International Orthopaedic Clinic ioc-ortho.com

Brighten up

“Add colourful fruits and vegetables (not M&Ms and Skittles!) to your diet. The different colours found in fruit and veg are created by phytonutrients which are beneficial to our health. Each colour has unique benefits and antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. Eating a variety is associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases including heart disease and diabetes, as well as being protective against certain cancers. So, brighten up your meals for better health.”

Dr Sundus Hussain-Morgan, General Practitioner, IMC Jelita   imc-healthcare.com

Get screened

“Stop and think about when your last health screening was. If it was over a year ago (or you’ve never had one), make an appointment with a trusted GP clinic. Preventative screening is a great way to pick up early warning signs and address medical issues before they become a problem.”

Dr Neil Forrest, Family Physician, Osler Health International

Mind your thoughts

“What we think, we become: if you want to change anything in life – your health, your career, your relationships – you have to change the way you think. Start by noticing your inner self-talk. Are you your own worst critic? Can you start being a little more positive and encouraging about yourself and your capabilities? Put yourself in your best friend’s shoes and consider how they would speak to you. Nothing changes if nothing changes, so create a plan for change, starting with more helpful thinking.”

Lynda Williams, Life & Executive Coach

Keep learning

“After having two kids it was tough for me to return to my old fitness levels and feel like myself again. My advice to new mums is to take your time, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember that the ‘perfect mum’ image on social media isn’t reality. Learn a new skill like self-defence, swimming or even skateboarding; something you get joy from, to help motivate you to move. If you’re struggling, find your tribe and do it together!”

PeiRu Ng, Founder & Coach, Rei Academy rei.com.sg

Make a Pilates date

“Whether you’re starting your fitness journey or you’re an elite athlete, Pilates should be on your radar. It suits everyone, is multidimensional, and provides an all-over workout through strength, stability and mobility. You’ll get stronger, more agile, and flexible. There are many Pilates styles that can be delivered as a low impact workout or a high intensity circuit-style class. Whatever you’re looking for can be found on a reformer bed.”

Renée Rommeswinkel, Head of Pilates, Virgin Active

Stimulate your cuddle nerves

“Whether it’s the demands of parenting, an unreasonable workload, or social media use, many of us experience frequent stress and worry that leaves us feeling irritable and down. A cooling weighted blanket can help many people feel more grounded and at ease (amazon.sg). They’re similar to normal blankets but feel heavier and the soothing pressure stimulates our ‘cuddle nerves’. In turn, this promotes the release of ‘feel good’ hormones in the brain which calm our body and mind.”

Dr Yisha Stiskala-Yu, Clinical Director of Teatree Health

Remember to breathe

“Do a body check. Review what and how you eat: aim for more non-processed whole foods eaten slowly and stop when you feel 80% full. Increase your water intake with broth soups, herbal teas, milk and high-water content fruits and vegetables. Prioritise sleep – this is when your body repairs itself and regulates hormones, blood sugars and metabolism. Lastly, remember to breathe. Take deep breaths including an inhalation for at least five seconds.” 

Lena Dobreci, Nutrition Coach and Owner, Anytime Fitness Kovan   anytimefitness.sg

Weight & see

“If you are currently not doing so, start lifting weights! The health benefits are endless: it improves your heart health, bone health, balances hormones and positively impacts your metabolism which as a positive side effect makes you look healthier and leaner. If you’ve never lifted weights or have had a long break, consult an experienced physiotherapist before starting your weight training journey.”

Heike Cushway, Health Coach and Co-Founder, The Integrative Medical Centre   theintegrativemedicalcentre.com   @theintegrativemedicalcentre

Choose aqua

“Water provides 12 to 14 percent more resistance than air, therefore exercising in shallow or deep water challenges the intensity of your workout and activates muscles that are harder to engage on land. Cardio in the pool keeps your heart rate up, improving lung capacity and increasing flexibility with low or no impact on your joints. In a country as hot as Singapore, it’s also a great way to stay cool. Add in pool weights and toys, like I do in my classes, to get full body toning and conditioning.”

Malissa Sander, Founder and Creator of the Aqua Tula method  @aqua.tula

Prevent injury

“It’s a myth that lactic acid gives our muscles that ‘burning’ sensation when we work out too vigorously or for too long. Lactic acid actually acts as a buffer to slow down fatigue. Stay healthy with physiotherapy treatments such as sports massage, red light therapy, or lymphatic drainage which helps to flush out hydrogen ions that accumulate (and cause a burning sensation) to enhance training and prevent injuries.”

Jenny Huang, Founding & Senior Physiotherapist

Enter the bone zone

“Besides a balanced diet – including calcium and vitamin D intake to facilitate calcium absorption into the bones – exercise is the next best thing to improve bone health. In particular, resistance training helps to prevent and manage osteoporosis, which is prevalent in older adults, especially women. Bone is a living tissue which ‘bends’ under pressure or stress and the pressure from resistance training can nudge bone-forming cells into action and thicken the bone matrix. Always consult a personal trainer on how best to get started on some machine-based exercises.”

Wendy Cho, Master Fitness Trainer, True Group
 @tfx.fitness  tfx.sg

S Express

“When adding exercise into your daily routine, remember the three S’s: Schedule, Simple and Social. 1) Schedule it into your calendar like you would a meeting. 2) Keep it Simple. Not all exercise needs to be at a high intensity. Walking, swimming and gentle stretching can have amazing mental and physical benefits. 3) Make it Social. Getting others involved in your fitness journey can make exercise more enjoyable and it allows you to hold each other accountable!”

Rinaha Tarawa, UFIT Personal Trainer & Class Coach
@ufitsingapore ufit.com.sg