These ripped senior citizens in Singapore could probably out-exercise you any day
If you haven’t been practising the healthiest of lifestyles, let these buff golden-agers serve as a reminder for you to get up, get moving, and get healthy. Known as ‘Team Strong Silvers’, these old-timers haven’t allowed their age to get in the way of their health and fitness despite a combined age of 424 years!
Formed in 2013 by Ng Siu Chi – 63, Ngai Hin Kwok – 72 and Ng Bee Kia – 76, Team Strong Silvers (TSS) was initially nothing more than an exercise group promoting healthy living and active ageing in Ang Mo Kio. It was not until they joined forces with facilitator Robert Ho, who started and maintained the TSS social media pages, that the group not only attained fame online, but gained new members from other parts of Singapore, including Peng Lin Hua, 81, Victor Chan, 69 and Qian Hong, 63.
Now a six-member group, TSS posts inspirational workouts and health tips on their Facebook and Instagram pages which have a following of 15,000 and 7,000 respectively. They also run ‘live’ exercise workshops for events across the country. To learn more about what motivates TSS to promote healthy and active ageing, we speak to Bee Kia, Peng, Victor and Qian.
How these ‘uncles’ stay fit
While many of us make excuses for not exercising, Peng, Bee Kia, Victor and Qian have been working out since they were young men. Peng, a former educator says that staying fit has always been his priority; he even met his spouse at a state-sponsored table tennis tournament in his 20s. Now in his 80s, Peng continues to lead an active lifestyle to avoid becoming a burden on his family and to maintain his health and functionality. His twice-daily exercise regimen involves 1.5 hours of backwards walking and calisthenics, including pullovers, flying dips and yoga headstands every morning, plus an hour’s brisk walk every evening.
Bee Kia, a former salesman, was also an active sportsman in school representing his alma mater in various sports meets. He played basketball in secondary school and took up competitive weightlifting in his early 20s. After retiring from competition to raise his family, he practised calisthenics exercises in his 60s and continues to do so until this day for the same reasons as Peng. While Bee Kia has found it challenging to return to a scheduled workout routine following retirement, he still makes times for exercise every morning. His current routine involves six to seven sets of 50 pushups and standard dips, and low-impact lower-body stretching to maintain his balance and mobility which also helps him prevent aggravating an old leg injury.
Victor, however, admits to being a chubby kid until he joined the army. While serving the military in his 20s, he became an amateur bodybuilder before switching to marathon and triathlon sports including running, cycling and swimming in his 50s. He no longer competes in endurance competitions, but continues to exercise to maintain his fitness as a swimming instructor and pool supervisor. Like Peng, he works out twice daily. In the morning he clocks in 2.5 hours of workout time, covering 15,000 steps, four sets of chin-ups, leg raises and vertical crunches as well as other ab exercises. In the afternoon, he does stretching and yoga, and may even exercise more after work, if time permits.
A former technician, Qian’s work had been physically demanding. While this kept him physically active, the stress from long working hours and family commitments affected his overall well being. To get his health back on track, Qian began exercising more after retirement, not only to preserve physical function but also to maintain optimal energy levels for caring for his grandchildren. Now the youngest member of TSS, Qian jogs for two hours and performs several reps of pull-downs, pistol squats, chin pushes, push-ups, standard dips, pullovers and headstands, culminating in an impressive four hours of rigorous exercise daily!
How about their diets?
Proponents of healthy eating, Peng, Bee Kia and Victor, stick to balanced, nutritious meals consisting of rice, vegetables, meat and fruit, while avoiding all things deep fried. They also steer clear of snacks in between meals and try not to consume too much sugar or salt.
While healthy diets are a key factor in optimal ageing, this doesn’t mean they deprive themselves of their favourite foods. Victor allows for biryani, mutton soup and mee goreng once or twice a month, explaining that it’s pointless sticking to a strict diet and exercise routine, without also enjoying life’s guilty pleasures on occasion.
Why is healthy and active ageing important among senior citizens?
Peng, Bee Kia, Victor and Qian are living proof that a healthy lifestyle slows down degeneration and disease. In fact, none of them have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood sugars.
“Regular exercise and staying active enable you to interact with other seniors, and social connections keep you happy,” Peng shares. “A healthy lifestyle also keeps you fit and mobile, reducing the risk of falls and diseases so you don’t become a physical/ financial burden on your family,” continues Bee Kia.
Mr Qian also adds that retired seniors like himself should remain strong and energetic so they can continue to contribute to the household, such as caring for grandchildren.
How can seniors who haven’t exercised improve their fitness. How else can they age healthily besides regular exercise and a healthy diet?
For those who have not exercised in a while or are recovering from an injury or sickness, Peng suggests simply getting up and moving at your own pace. Bee Kia also recommends regressive variations of normal exercises, such as push-ups against a wall, rather than the floor, or a walk around the neighbourhood, instead of a jog. Once seniors improve their fitness level, they can increase the intensity and frequency of their exercise regimen accordingly.
Bee Kia and Peng also encourage going out and taking up hobbies that make you happy. Qian, on the other hand, suggests good ol’ retail therapy and spending time with the family, while Chan recommends caring for a pet, taking it easy in life, and being kind to everyone around you.
Photos courtesy of Team Strong Silvers.
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