A new challenge that features guided walking trails curated specially for seniors who participate in this year's National Steps Challenge was launched yesterday.
The number of seniors joining the yearly exercise programme has also risen.
Over the programme's first four editions, the number of participants aged 60 and above has grown from 16,000 in 2015 to 140,000 last year, said Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor.
These participants have also been walking more, with the number of average daily steps clocked by this age group increasing from 6,900 to 10,500 over the same time period, she added at the launch of the new Silver Challenge at Tampines Community Plaza.
The challenge features walks at iconic locations and nature parks in various parts of Singapore, such as Tampines Eco Green, and simple tips on healthy ageing.
The total number of trails and their locations have yet to be confirmed by the Health Promotion Board (HPB).
The Silver Challenge is meant as a tribute to the Merdeka Generation and to motivate the elderly to stay physically active.
Since sign-ups for the Silver Challenge opened last Friday, 18,000 seniors have joined the challenge, said HPB.
Participants get a specially designed heart-rate monitoring fitness tracker that has a colour display, a silver rim and an extra set of black-and-red straps.
Dr Khor noted that while life expectancy increased from 76.1 years in 1990 to 84.8 years in 2017, the number of years spent in ill health also rose from nine years to 10.5 years over the same period.
"What we want to do, really, is to help Singaporeans to add more life to years, and not just years to life," she said. "And in order to do that, we need to encourage seniors to take care of their own health, so that they can reap health benefits as they age and continue to pursue their interests."
Ms Linda Teo, 68, signed up for the Silver Challenge as she enjoys keeping active.
"The route at Tampines Eco Green was scenic and I enjoyed it. I would encourage more seniors to join," said Ms Teo, a former businesswoman who exercises at least two hours a day, six days a week.
Season 4 of the National Steps Challenge had 800,000 sign-ups, a five-fold increase from Season 1, which was launched in 2015.
Data across the last four seasons also showed a rise in physical activity among participants over time, driven by clocking steps and engagement in higher-intensity exercises.
Those who participated in all past seasons recorded an improvement of 3,950 steps per day since the first season.
The introduction of the Moderate-to Vigorous-intensity Physical Activity category in Season 4 led to an increase in participation in higher-intensity exercises by 19 minutes per week, from Season 3 to Season 4.
This year's National Steps Challenge, which starts on Oct 26 and ends on April 30 next year, will add two more reward tiers to the Moderate-to Vigorous-intensity Physical Activity category.
HPB will also give away exclusively designed Pokemon-themed collectable kits to participants who have joined all four past seasons or who have completed all six reward tiers of the Steps category across the seasons.
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.
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