It is heartening to know that Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh will not introduce changes to the current sports programmes in Malaysia in the interim, but will instead, take steps to strengthen existing ones.
For far too long, the ministry has been focusing on elevating the standards of Malaysian sports in the international arena where we have been fairly successful in specific sports, such as badminton, by winning Olympic medals and world titles.
There is nothing wrong with this approach. This focus on competitive sports should continue, and be supported, as it has brought glory to the country.
While not everyone can excel in sports, many are still interested to partake in sports to keep themselves fit and healthy.
Perhaps it is time that the ministry, in collaboration with the Health and Education Ministries, emphasise and pay attention to non-competitive sports such as aerobics, yoga, leisure walking, and hiking, just to name a few.
The objective is to raise the awareness of Malaysians to make sports and exercise a part of our daily routine and lifestyle. In other words, the government should have a blueprint or a comprehensive programme to promote and encourage non-competitive sports among Malaysians of all ages.
I feel so heartened on my daily hikes up Bukit Kiara when I observe parents with their young ones in tow, on the trails. These parents are infusing the exercise culture on the young, which will bring long-term benefits to themselves and the country, if these children and their children continue to adopt this culture on a sustainable basis.
To be successful, the seeds need to be planted from young so that exercise and sports will become a commonplace lifestyle for the coming generations.
There are two key ways to infuse this fitness culture on the young – through schools and the family unit. Schools, beginning at the primary level, can play a significant role in motivating and encouraging the young to take part in sports and exercise on a regular basis.
At the family level, it is parents who can influence their children to regard exercise as a fun and normal family activity.
The Health Ministry too, has a key role. When visiting our doctor, how often does the doctor prescribe exercise as part of the treatment?
Regrettably, the focus is on drugs and more drugs; the doctors are too busy to highlight to their patients the importance of exercising as part of their daily routine. So, doctors have to be first convinced of the value of exercise and sports for the better health of their patients.
Staying active is universally recognised as an effective way of cultivating good health.
Regrettably, only a small portion of Malaysians exercise on a regular basis. We have yet to reach the stage where we Malaysians value the immense benefits of sports and exercise.
Malaysians must change their thinking and mindset, and incorporate sports and exercise into their lifestyle. Hopefully, this will translate to Malaysians having a higher level of activity, mobility, and of course, productivity.
A learned Malaysian medical doctor, Dr Kannan Pasamanickam said: “Taking charge of your health, which is taken for granted by most, is the most important investment you can make, both for yourself and your loved ones”.
The mantra is simple – your health is in your hands. Invest in it now and you will reap huge dividends in the later part of your life. The caveat is that you must also have heaps of discipline and commitment. It’s never too late to start exercising.
Success can be defined in a number of ways.
At 74, I would define it as waking up every morning, feeling good, and with a smile, and looking forward to the day. Every day is filled with something new – all because I had invested in my health earlier on in my life. And I’m so glad I did!
This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.