Sun Life's Health Index Reveals Filipinos Rank High in Asia for Lack of Exercise



I used to dislike doing strenuous physical activities when I was younger. I thought ocassionally walking the whole length and breadth of a mall while window shopping or moving around the house doing chores every day were enough to keep me fit. 

overcome laziness and pursue active living!
photo credit: Sun Life HK
I was wrong and I honestly regret not starting my fitness journey earlier. I started running about three years ago and found how much it has improved my endurance as well as my body. I am now seldom sluggish and am no longer afraid of very long walks or climbing long flights of stairs. More importantly, it comforts me to know that I am taking concrete steps to be here longer for my family.

Having experienced the benefits of regularly working out, I really want to encourage people I care about to also be more mindful of their health as well as their diets. It's hard to backtrack when you're already diagnosed with lifestyle diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure but you can still do something to improve your fitness level. You just have to start NOW!

I have a lot of reasons why I want to remain fit and healthy; find yours!
Personally, I feel sad about the findings of this year's Sun Life Financial Asia Health Index because the Philippines, along with Thailand and Malaysia, topped the list of countries in the region where people don't exercise regularly. It's ironic that Filipino respondents were found to be the most optimistic about their state of health and yet 61% do not make a lot of effort to engage in physical activities! In addition, 30% feel less healthy than they did three years ago. 

Launched in 2014, the Sun Life Financial Asia Health Index is a periodic study of health trends in Asia. The research is based on the findings of an Ipsos survey conducted in August 2016 involving around 4,000 Asians from 25 to 60 years of age and with middle class incomes. Respondents from Mainland China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam were interviewed online about their attitudes towards healthy and active living, their health concerns for the future, and expectations on access to healthcare.

Sun Life Asia Health Index Media Briefing at Shangri-La Makati
from left: Ms. Lirio, Ms. Mylene, Ms. Riza, and Ms. Jaymie
According to Ms. Mylene Lopa, Sun Life Chief Marketing Officer who delivered the report, survey respondents identified several barriers from living a healthier life: 57% of Filipinos blamed it on their lack of time due to work, 47% admitted to "lack of personal motivation," and 47% said it's due to "distractions of modern life" which, I presume, include too much time on social media. Other key factors named were cost (45%) and lack of accessible venues to engage in sports and recreation (36%).

Let me tell you right now that IT IS POSSIBLE to exercise at home if you can't afford gym membership fees or don't have a place nearby where you can go running! Buy a jump rope or yoga mat (they are not as expensive as you think, promise!), watch YouTube videos you can follow, and you'll soon be on your way to developing a simple fitness regimen for starters. 

on days when I can't run, I do jump rope exercises at home 
Please don't remain part of the population dubbed as "Generation O" or people who are overweight, overworked, or overwhelmed. Last year's Health Index identified six health segments in the Philippines. Find out where you belong by reading my other blog post, here, and see where you need to make adjustments.

Sun Life President and CEO Ms. Riza Mantaring reminds, "With all the things that demand our time and attention, it's usually our health that suffers because it's relegated to the least of our priorities. However, this should not be the case. This is why we at Sun Life have been boosting our suite of wellness products and mounting events that would help Filipinos to pursue their health goals." 

a healthy lifestyle makes for a brighter life
photo credit: Sun Life Canada
FYI, despite her very busy schedule, Ms. Riza finds time to do practice runs every day and has finished marathons in various countries! "You just have to schedule exercise like any other activity," she advises. 

Speaking of wellness products, Sun Life recently launched SUN Fit and Well, which offers comprehensive life and health protection from childhood all the way to the golden years. While most products offer benefits only when an illness strikes, SUN Fit and Well covers policy holders' needs from prevention to diagnosis to treatment, all the way to rehabilitation

Be protected! Learn more about Sun Fit and Well today!
Ms. Lirio Torres, Sun Life Health and Accident Head, shares that this new generation wellness product covers 114 critical illnesses (major and minor) that encompass conditions across life stages. She describes, "SUN Fit and Well is comprehensive health protection and savings from childhood (starting at 30 days old) up until age 100." 

For prevention, SUN Fit and Well provides Gold membership access to GoWell, Sun Life's wellness program. Here, members can enjoy special privileges that will help them keep mind and body fit. According to GoWell advocate, Ms. Jaymie Pizarro, this includes easy access to health and wellness information, fitness and wellness events, advice from nutrition and health experts, and more.

fit and fab women of Sun Life
The good news is, even if you're not yet a SUN Fit and Well policy holder, you can still be a member of GoWell. Just log on to www.gowell.com.ph so you can pre-register and join activities like zumba and yoga sessionsrunning clinics, and more for free! "We make sure to cater to all people so that a vast majority of Filipinos could start exercising now, get fit, and have fun," assured Jaymie.

"Sun Life remains committed to helping Filipinos face a brighter tomorrow by being in the best of health," shares Ms. Riza. "The results of the Asia Health Index reiterate the need to promote a healthier lifestyle, and Sun Life wants to be the Filipinos' partner in pursuing the journey."

For those who need that extra push, I pray that after reading this, many of you would finally find time to exercise. However, if you have an existing medical condition, make sure to ask your doctor for advice first. Please do share with me in the comments section if I was able to encourage you. I'd love to hear your story! 😊


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