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Think Malaysians Perceive Their Health As Good? Think Again

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Think Malaysians Perceive Their Health As Good? Think Again
If someone were to ask you how healthy do you think you really are? Maybe some might say alright, fair or maybe even below average? Have you ever set weight goals during New Year's Eve as a resolution but never seem to fulfill it? Guess what, you are not alone.

AIA Group recently reviewed their AIA 2016 Healthy Ling Index Survey which surveyed over 10,000 adults across 15 countries in the Asia Pacific region and within the survey there were 751 Malaysians that participated. When asked if Malaysians were satisfied with their health status, Malaysia scored 68 points out of 100 in the AIA 2016 Healthy Living Index, lower than the regional average of 73 points.

To be honest, I was surprise when I saw the results. The index survey focused on 2 main parts of Healthy Living which are people's satisfaction towards their health and their behaviours to stay healthy. The survey found that 70% Malaysian adults felt that their health was not as good as it was five years ago. What's even more scary is that 61% are actually adults below 30! Heck even I would say the same, 5 years ago I was 19 and I remember life as a student was great.

Those that was surveyed recognized that healthy living consist of a mixture of physical elements (getting sufficient sleep and eating healthy) and mental aspects (having a positive mindset and reduce stress in our daily lives). However, one of the key point of healthy living was left out in many countries, which is exercise. Weird ain't it?
From left to right: Mr Thomas Isaac (Director of Intuit Research), Ms Indra Balaratnam (Consultant Dietitian), Ms Jacqueline Wong (HOD Learning and Development of Fitness First Asia) & Dr Myralini, Medical Director and Head of Care Management, AIA Health Services Sdn Bhd

AIA Bhd's chief marketing officer, Thomas Wong who was present at the event, said the survey was first launched in 2011 to gauge how people in Asia Pacific feel about their health, as well as their behaviours and habits. A roundtable discussion was later held to discuss about the findings with the panel speakers above. Which I think it's a fantastic way to help us Malaysians realise how we should be taking our health seriously. It's always from these surveys with the staggering results that gives us a wake up call to do something. Will reveal the 4 main causes of unhealthy living habits from the survey and the tips given from the panel of health expert.

1. Unhealthy Eating Habits 
The survey revealed that 6 out of 10 Malaysians want to lose an average of 8.5kgs. Of the respondents, 55% were either pre-obese or obese based on their body mass index readings. One of the main reason for obesity is poor eating habits. I know it's hard to have a well balance meal especially in our beloved country which has a wide variety of food.

2. Lack of Exercise
The lack of exercise. We can all agree on this! From the survey, it's found that 69% of Malaysians said they exercise regularly BUT ONLY spend an average of 2.6 hours a week exercising and well below the recommended time by most experts which is 3.5 hours a week. Most of us find exercising hard and negative which causes us not to start. We even might lack motivation at times and end up watching TV or even worse, snacking away.

3. Addicted Screen Time
Who here says they will go on Facebook for 5 minutes before bed but soon realize an hour has passed? Sounds familiar? It's scary and how easily engrossed we can get into the realm of the internet. We won't even have realized that time had passed us by so quickly, and the next thing we know, it is already the next morning! Reported from the survey, Malaysian participants spend an average 4.1 hours each day on the Internet for non-work related pursuits which is the one of the highest hour spent in the region. Also, 68% of  Malaysian participants claimed they are addicted to online activities, much higher than the regional average of 57%. Though, is that surprising news?

Tip: Set an an alarm for a fixed time to be online and stick with the time given. Sometimes we can lose track when we are watching our favorite drama, playing our favorite online games or even just updating ourselves with other people's life. A simple alarm could always keep us on the right track to leading a healthier lifestyle.

2. Lack of Sleep
We willingly forgo out sleep due to our habits of being glued to our devices throughout the night or maybe even working late to complete an assignment or work presentation. From the survey, Malaysians are not getting adequate sleep. While a 7.5-hour sleep a night is desired, they only get 6.3 hours, the lowest among the 15 countries surveyed.
Tip: Plan the day ahead with everything that is needed to be done. OFF your wifi connection before going to sleep. That way you won't be disturb from social media notifications.

Tip: Find a group or some friends that share exercise as an interest. When in a group, it's easier to stay in progress, as your peers would often keep our progress in check or invite each other to join a marathon or hike up a mountain. You also don't have to start big, like don't think that you have to join a gym to start exercising. All you have to do first is have that motivation and start small. Like take the stairs up instead of the lift, do some house chores like ironing or even washing the dishes. It is the small step that will slowly build up our habit to move around and about.


86% of those surveyed said they tend to eat when distracted with their screens, 81% admitted to eating unhealthy snacks and 73% had their dinners late. Attempts to eat healthier are recommended with the basics of drinking more water and eating more fruits and vegetables. There is also a pre-conception from Malaysians that healthy food is more expensive (81%); does not taste very good (64%) and is harder to prepare (58%).
Tip: Healthy food is not always expensive. Instead of taking that fried chicken or big bowl of rice, you can choose noodle soup or mixed rice with less carbohydrate. Cooking at home or packing food helps too. To those that say fast food is affordable and convenient, remember, we are what we eat. It's about choice. Choose to eat or exercise all of the calories away.
AIA hopes to encourage people to make healthier lifestyle choices in view of results from the survey. Health by far is the most previous thing you own in life and the quality of health is determined by your actions.

What are your choices? The experts recommend us to take small steps, like set smaller, achievable goals and change one step at a time, it does make a difference! Very importantly, we need to sustain these healthy behaviors, then only can we stay healthy!
Have a great day ahead everyone!
xx
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Jess is an adventurous Malaysian girl with a soft spot for food, shoes and all things romantic. She loves fashion and traveling too. Diversity excites her, therefore she would tend to try out everything she gets a chance to ✌ [It's Jessy] (http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-03f5fetL2yM/VcjMybyGvRI/AAAAAAAAk_Q/HSNlhlRdbRI/s1600/11428132_938657246181010_1642264289_n.jpg)