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10 August 2017
If you are like the majority of Malaysians living in the city, you are likely to:
These lifestyle behaviours may seem like just that – every day actions we participate in to keep on living. However, some of what we are doing may be causing the opposite by increasing the risk of some illnesses. With more Malaysians moving to the city to earn a living, what are some risk factors we should be aware of, and how can we manage them?
One recent study showed that Malaysians walk very little daily. At 3,963 steps daily, we are below the global average of 5,000 and the third lowest worldwide. Another recent news article stated that we’d rather drive to locations as close as 200m away than walk! Coupled with our love for food and regularly eating out, it’s a recipe for obesity and a sedentary lifestyle that also increases the risk of other health conditions like hypertension and diabetes.
The habit of walking brings plenty of benefits to our health. Not only is it an easy and affordable way to stay active, it also benefits joints, muscles and can be done anywhere. Even taking the steps instead of the lift helps to elevate your heartrate. Studies have also shown that having home cooked meals can help a person to lose weight or stay trim.
Stress may not directly contribute to the occurrence of heart disease, but how we handle stress may. When some people handle stress poorly (like taking up smoking as a form of relief, overeating, binge eating or conversely, skipping meals), they are exposing themselves to higher risk of developing heart disease, which is the number one cause of death among Malaysians.
Overcome this by having healthy stress management techniques and practicing a low cholesterol and low fat diet.
Malaysians are known to consume copious amounts of sugar (26 teaspoons a day!) be it in the morning coffee, after-lunch bubble tea or at tea with the beloved Teh Tarik. In 2016, 17.5% of Malaysians above age 18 live with diabetes. It’s not just affecting adults, however – children can also get diabetes (link to children diabetes article).
Diabetes and obesity go somewhat hand-in-hand. People with type 2 diabetes are likely to be overweight or obese, while overweight or obese people are at risk to develop diabetes. In addition to the tips above on obesity, you can manage or lower risk of diabetes by:
In recent years, there has been a steady rise of all kinds of pollution whether it is contaminated water, soil, city noise, light and even chemical. Most notably, our cities experience its fair share of air pollution no thanks to smog from daily vehicles making its way into the city center, and annually, the open burning from neighboring countries.
A study conducted in the United States also showed that children who live in crowded urban neighbourhoods have higher rates of asthma than their rural counterparts. Apart from pollution, other triggers that increase the risk of asthma are seasonal pollens and dust mite allergens.
You can alleviate symptoms of asthma or respiratory diseases by:
Living in rural or urban areas bring with it unique risks, challenges and opportunities to improve your wellbeing. Having a healthy lifestyle that involves physical exercise, balanced eating and care for mental wellness are key to surviving and thriving wherever you are located.
The above articles are intended for informational purposes only. AIA accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from reliance on information contained in the articles.
AIA Vitality is a unique insurance and health programme that actively supports and rewards you for making healthier choices every day so you can live a healthier, longer and better life.