Category Archives: Editor’s Note

Notes and anecdotes by Asia Fitness Today’s Editor

Is there a bigger pandemic looming?

The Novel Coronavirus nCoV or COVID-19 has been one of the most widespread diseases so far. With a death rate of 1.52 million people, many believe that this pandemic is the greatest challenge in history. But there is a bigger and far more dangerous disease that has been in our lives for longer.
Photo via Pexels Alex Green

What are NCDs?

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes, are the leading causes of death in the world. They contribute to 71% of global deaths each year. This invisible pandemic causes more death and suffering than COVID-19, year after year. 

NCDs kill approximately 41 million people every year. This is more than the population of Malaysia and Singapore put together! Unfortunately, many people remain unaware of this pandemic that has been wreaking havoc for quite a while now. 

NCDs are diseases which are non-infectious, meaning that they cannot spread from one person to another. They tend to last for a long duration and occur as a result of a combination of:

  • Genetic – Certain diseases such as diabetes, asthma and cancer are genetic, meaning that they can be inherited from parents or ancestors. (We will investigate how certain interventions have shown positive effects in disease management in another feature article later – Ed.) 
  • Physiological Factors – These are factors that are related to a person’s body and can be influenced by genes, lifestyle and other factors. For instance, obesity and high blood pressure are physiological factors. 
  • Environmental Factors – These include factors such as access to clean water, air pollution, sanitation and poverty. 
  • Behavioural Factors – These are factors that are related to an individual’s actions and lifestyle such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol and lack of physical activity. These can be reduced through changes in lifestyle.

The main types of NCDs

  • Cardiovascular diseases (e.g. heart attacks and stroke)
  • Cancer (lung, breast, skin and the like)
  • Chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma 
  • Diabetes 

An indiscriminating disease

Just like COVID-19, NCDs do not discriminate but the most vulnerable are those living in developing countries. Poverty is closely linked with NCDs and increases the risk of death and disability from NCDs.

Each year, WHO reports that 15 million people between the ages of 30 and 69 years die from an NCD, and over 85% of these “premature” deaths occur in developing countries. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a leading voice and repository for facts and information on U.S. health-care issues shared in a post published on 29 Jan 2019, “The U.S. Government and Global Non-Communicable Disease Effortsthat chronic diseases in developing countries are not given the importance and attention it deserves (Ed.)

According to WHO (2018), NCDs account for:- 

26.6% of all deaths in Taiwan, 

63% of all deaths in India, 

68% of all deaths in the Philippines,

73% of all deaths in Indonesia, 

74% of all deaths in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand,

More than 80% of all deaths in Fiji, and 

89% of all deaths in China. 

The rate of deaths caused by NCDS are extremely high in Western countries with NCDS accounting for: – 

74% of all deaths in Brazil,

89% of all deaths in the United Kingdom, and 

91% of all deaths in Australia and Italy.

It has been predicted that by 2030, the global average NCD deaths from the total number of deaths would be 75.26%. That’s a whopping two-thirds of total fatality.

Ann Keeling, Chair NCD Alliance and IDF CEO stated “90 million avoidable deaths from NCDs will occur worldwide within the next decade if nothing is done. We’re angry and we want action!” 

The risk factors that increase the chances of NCDs include the person’s lifestyle and environment. 

This includes age, gender, genetics, exposure to pollution, lack of physical activity, smoking tobacco and drinking too much alcohol. 

The rise of NCDs poses devastating health consequences for individuals, families and communities, and threatens to overwhelm health systems. However, most NCDs are considered preventable because they are caused by modifiable risk factors. Having an healthy and active lifestyle such as regular physical activity and nutritious food reduces the likelihood of getting NCDs. 

Countries and other stakeholders have to support a holistic approach to health, which promotes good health and healthy behaviours, prevention of NCDs and accounts for the early detection, diagnosis, management, and treatment of NCDs. 

This article has been researched, compiled and written by the team at Asia Fitness Today; Sneha Ramesh – Intern, Monash University (Sunway campus), Syuhada Adam – Editorial consultant, Nikki Yeo & Jasmine Low – Director/Producer.

Asia Fitness Today has embarked on MISSION 2030 — to halve NCD rates in the Asia Pacific region by 2030. If we could ask if you could please share this article on social media or with someone you know and care about so we can perpetuate this ripples of awareness in the community. It begins with a whisper, a drop in the ocean and slowly, change can happen. It begins with us. Learn more:


World Health Organization. (2015, October 5). NCDs, poverty and development.

World Health Organization: WHO. (2018, June 1). Noncommunicable diseases.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, May 26). About Global NCDs | Division of Global Health Protection | Global Health | CDC. CDC.,out%20of%2010%20deaths%20worldwide.&text=Changing%20social%2C%20economic%2C%20and%20structural,age%20of%2070%E2%80%94each%20year.

Benham, B. (2018, April 5). Poverty Increases Risk of Non-Communicable Diseases in Lower Income Co. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

World Health Organisation. (2019, June 12). Noncommunicable diseases.

World Health Organisation. (n.d.). World Health Organization – Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Barbosa, I. (2020, April 10). The Invisible Pandemic of NCDs May Now Come To Light. Neill Institute.

Wang, Y., & Wang, J. (2020). Modelling and prediction of global non-communicable diseases. BMC Public Health, 20, 1-13. 

Movement Aid for seniors

I want you to move it #move8.

I was catching up with friends, and chatting about communities who would be most affected by global pandemics such as COVID-19. I decided to delve into researching about seniors and what was being done in the region and stumbled upon a truly heart warming story to share.

Senior Volunteerism by RSVP Singapore

RSVP Singapore is an organisation setup in 1998 with a vision to make every senior a volunteer! It is an Institution of Public Character and the National Centre of Excellence for Senior Volunteerism under the patronage of Mdm Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore.

If you’ve visited Singapore, you’ll notice many of its public events involve seniors and it’s a lovely and refreshing note to see people from all walks of life, contributing their time and playing a role in society. In Singapore, seniors as young as 55 years can enjoy discounts and offers from the various merchants. I found a useful link compiling savings here. There’s also reference to the Pioneer Generation, which denotes those who are aged 70 and above in 2019 who obtained Singapore citizenship on or before 31 December 1986).

On the RSVP Singapore website, seniors were invited to join and sign-up for the following:

  • Befriending
  • Episodic volunteering
  • Guiding
  • Training
  • Retire with a purpose
  • Social enterprise

RSVP has a clear mission and that is to develop senior volunteers and provide meaningful opportunities to serve the needs of the community. They do this by working with various partners to create volunteering opportunities to allow new and would-be volunteers to have a taste of volunteering. This movement, called Senior Volunteer Week (SVW), has grown from 30 activities involving over 1,000 volunteers in 2012 and stretched to a full month’s celebration from 2015 on.

What’s even more heartwarming is their Facebook page, which has about 3,300 odd followers. It shares that they now have 2,500 volunteers serving more than 200,000 beneficiaries each year including the mentally disadvantaged, at-risk children from low income families, and socially isolated seniors through its community service programmes.

A Facebook video response about mask distribution exercise by the Punggol 21 Community Club is embedded video below. For an external link, click here.

Besides community outreach, the RSVP group is also proactive in another kind of sharing, through food! You could visit their website to donate or purchase an RSVP Cookbook – a collection of culinary treasures contributed by its volunteers, many of whom are from the Pioneer Generation, with contribution from guest cooks.

The cookbook offers RSVP volunteers the opportunity to create, to write, photograph and cook the many dishes for the photo shoot. The video above shows how much fun it seemed in putting this book together.

To order, call or email. Note, book is for self-collection only.

On their website, transparency be the key, I read their 2018-2019 annual report and have reached out to RSVP Singapore via email to learn more about how other countries could learn from their experience. I’ll report more once I hear from them.

The efforts of RSVP Singapore ought be lauded as their management and volunteers have worked very hard and smart to bring so much joy to those involved. I believe this is a model that can be undertaken by many more countries so their seniors too can sign on as volunteers and play a role in society. The cook book is also a brilliant idea! Imagine if we were able to document by text, photo and video for every grandma’s recipe – what a treasure trove that would be for not just the family, their community and the nation!

As a carer of my 75-year old mother, I’ve often wondered if there was such a service available – a club where seniors could volunteer and episodic is a good word! Sometimes what’s concerning is to just volunteer once and because of medical conditions or other reasons, a senior person isn’t able to continue physically however the heart is willing. I know my mum has lots more to contribute to society, anecdotes, laughter and amazing customer service skills too! I found a senior’s day care centre, but it’s not something she’d be keen to do because I too would feel awkward being left in a place where I know no one.

A Move8 Walkathon in Kuala Lumpur

And that was one of the driving forces behind the Move8 fitness movement that Nikki and I started in 2018. Our intention was to help move as many humans as we could, once a month, with organised activities. Just this month, we’ve rolled out MOVEAID, a support platform that helps bring together certified professionals and non-certified buddies to provide virtual movement sessions (or anything that requires movement assistance from groceries to medications during COVID-19) to serve our senior citizens who have contributed so much to our lives.

Meanwhile, if you’re home and would like to help a senior in your home moving, here’s a special playlist we’ve put together just for them. Keep on moving #move8.

Move8 Seniors Playlist

Back to nature

We live in the urban jungle day in, day out with hardly any time to rest. Those of us who are eager to exercise rush to the gym or try to reconnect with ourselves by doing yoga. But sometimes it still doesn’t seem like it’s enough for us to truly relax.

Sometimes, going back to nature seems the only way we are able to relax and reconnect with ourselves. There are those who hike through the numerous hiking trails available in the Klang Valley. There are those who go for beach holidays.

No matter your preference reconnecting with nature means reconnecting with yourself.

Of course, here’s a video of myself being either an absolute idiot or just happy being able to play with nature. It was an absolute joy.

Different ways to move (Editor’s Note)

There are many ways that we can move to achieve our fitness goals. Everyone have a choice of CrossFit, TRX, yoga, zumba, weightlifting and many more. But the very basic that’s recommended is achieving 10,000 steps a day.


Achieving this is extremely unrealistic, says Stuart Heritage in his article in The Guardian. In the article, he suggests another alternative towards achieving 10,000 steps per day and tracking those steps using a fitness tracker. He also said SHAME should be our greatest motivator.

As blunt and direct Mr. Heritage is, I would have to agree. Being and keeping fit is not merely about meeting your daily step goals. I use Google Fit to track my steps and other exercise apps that are connected with it. However, Google Fit is unable to track how many random push ups I do per day. It also occasionally tracks me as running or riding a bicycle when all I’ve done is walking. I can’t have been walking that fast!

Now, putting your step tracking activities aside, there are different ways that we can move in order to achieve our fitness goals. These exercises do not have to be boring though. What counts is that you move – playing with your toddler, walking around in circles while on your phone, and more.

This week’s articles will introduce two different ways to move your body. We have Gyrokinesis review from Beyond Movement and a review of Jump Street. Both reviews feature different types of movement.

We also have an article of KYDRA sports apparel and a rehabilitative method called Rolfing. The latter is extremely difficult to describe but is extraordinary in helping people out with injuries and more.

Keep moving, dear readers! #Move8

Is a fitness hero/idol important? (Editor’s Note)

Allow me to get straight to the point – a fitness hero or idol is someone who we aspire to be or has become the inspiration for the person we would like to become. Who is your fitness hero?


How we met

Mine came to me when I was still in primary school. At the time, I was doing the tournament rounds for tae kwon do and I got used to be the “cute” one at tournaments as well as being the youngest (usually). I also had to fight above my age level as they were the closest to my age. So imagine a short 10-year-old me having to compete in the Under-15 category (I’m still short, by the way).

The girls were big and tall, and hard to beat. It was hard for me to be able to score points although I always ended up on podium. That was a lot of work!

At the time, my parents didn’t even want me to do any martial arts. They think it would make me more masculine and learn less on how to be a lady. But I was a tomboy and I loved how I was able to focus. Heck, I wanted to be a boy!

Okay, I’m lying. It was not fun being screamed at to kick harder and faster. To do 50 – 100 push ups as fast as you can. To keep throwing punches until you feel you can’t lift your arms anymore.

But that fateful day when I was in Primary 5, I met this lady while I was being taken care of by other female competitors in their 20s. My parents never attended any tournaments, or so they said.


The fight

The lady in question was a brown belt, 25 years old and said she was working for Malaysian Airlines as a stewardess. She said she knew she was going to be able to participate in the tournament during the time.

She had long curly hair and wore red lipstick. “Who in their right mind would wear lipstick in a tournament?” I asked myself. She giggled a lot and kept cooing at me. I hated it.

Then she was called to fight. She turned, giggled (again) and ran with such a girlish saunter that made me wonder why she had participated in the first place. All the ladies suddenly sat upright and quiet while telling me that I had to see her fight.

I shrugged and wondered how long it would last. The moment the referee said “fight!” she hit her opponent with a spinning back hook and was K.O.-ed. She did this with a determined face and strong masculine stance.

While the referee counted down on her opponent, she switched back to that girly girl and if she could twirl her curly hair, she would. When it was pronounced that she was the winner, she ran back towards us in her light ball-on-mat run while her hair swayed side to side a la Baywatch.


The realization

It was during the K.O. that it occurred to me a girl can still be a girl when she’s doing martial arts. Not just martial arts – a girl can achieve anything she sets her mind to without losing her femininity. She is still my hero, especially fitness hero, because despite looking like she was so weak and dainty, she still could throw a mean kick to save her life.

I stopped resenting having guys as sparring partners. Instead I look at them as challenges. I learnt to overcome obstacles from this. I learnt that I had to be fitter than them to beat them.

I also learnt that being fit does not necessarily equate to huge bulging muscles.

I never knew her name but lady, you’re the inspiration for everything I have done, achieved and overcome. That one K.O. was more than enough to tell me I’m good. I’m ok.

Editor’s Note: Fitness Bullying

Are you guilty of fitness bullying? Are you one of those who makes fun of larger sized individuals while they are trying to exercise? Do you make fun of others while stating that they cannot do or perform your exercise routines? If you lift weights, do you make fun of others who don’t?

All of these are a form of bullying.

When a person decides to make a better version of themselves, they should be applauded and supported, not ridiculed to the point of making them feel worse. A person who is 160kg should not be laughed at while they try new workouts. Just because they are huffing and puffing more than you does not make their efforts any less than yours.

Ask yourself the next time you feel like ridiculing someone in the gym or your yoga class – what does making fun of the other person bring you? Does it make you happy? Will it help you lift more weights or perform a more vigorous Crossfit session?

A fit and healthy lifestyle community should be a supportive one, especially to each other. Comparing yourself to another who is struggling or trying really hard will not make your workouts better nor will it make you a better person.

Allow the other person to celebrate their small successes. Let them achieve their goals. Let us all celebrate our bodies and successes, no matter how small they are. Let’s encourage each other rather than trying to shame the other person to the point of them staying away from being a better version of themselves.



Editor’s Note: Never Too Late

Hands up please to those of you who began the year with the resolution to lose weight. Be honest. I am one of those people.

It all began with sitting by the beach, waiting for the fireworks display, that we started talking about our New Year resolutions. Although it’s mostly about body goals, losing weight is an important factor as 75% of us who were there were overweight.

For me, I began my body transformation completely mad – threw myself into exercising and crash dieting. That ended up pretty bad. I had injuries and binge-ate most times.

Took me a while to get into the groove of things while my friends are already seeing results. That did not hamper my enthusiasm to achieve my goals though. In fact, it encouraged me further.

I decided to adopt a healthier lifestyle and more realistic goals. The goal in the adoption was to change habits and mindset.

It may be July now but I feel as if it’s January and I’m just starting to finally realign myself towards a better me. There is no excuse to stop achieving goals set out on that beach on New Year’s just because it’s the middle of the year. The best time to begin working on a better you is now.


My weight as of 1 January 2018: 71kg

My current weight: 67kg