Building body and bonds
We speak to two Singaporean families about how they strengthen family ties through physical activities
Forget hanging out at the mall.
Some parents would rather bond with their children by exercising outdoors - like taking part in the Hello Kitty Run next month.
That was what senior project manager Ang Kok Kiong and account manager Ho Pei Lin, both 34, did with their daughter last year.
And they plan to take part again this year.
Both say Yixuan, six, is so active that they sometimes struggle to keep up with her.
They say she has been swimming, dancing ballet and doing gymnastics since she was three.
Mr Ang says: "Starting exercise at a young age is important.
"It helps the child's mental and academic development.
"This is why we will go for events where we can exercise together as a family.
"Yixuan is very excited about the Hello Kitty Run next month."
Ms Ho, a big Hello Kitty fan, has been buying Hello Kitty memorabilia since she was young.
She even has a pink car with an interior that is decorated with Hello Kitty merchandise.
Ms Ho says she is excited to take her daughter to an event that combines exercise and her favourite character.
She says: "I am confident that Yixuan, who learnt cycling in just a few days, will be able to complete the (5km) Hello Kitty Run next month."
Mr Ang, an avid runner, says his dream is to have his wife and daughter run with him. He runs three or four times a week.
Yixuan says: "After going for the Hello Kitty Run last year, I came home and wanted to race Daddy!"
Mr Bob Wong, his wife and six-year-old daughter. Both families are joining the Hello Kitty Run again this year. TNP PHOTO: DALENE LOW
Manager Bob Wong, 47, shares Mr Ang's philosophy of bonding through exercise.
Mr Wong and his wife Wendy Fung, a 43-year-old supply chain manager, took their daughters Jayee, 10, and Kaylyn, six, to the Hello Kitty Run last year.
Both did not want their daughters to lead a sedentary lifestyle.
Mr Wong says: "It is important to have kids form the habit of exercise early so that they don't become couch potatoes.
"So many kids are addicted to their computers and will use them all day, sometimes without moving much at all.
"Don't just look at your screens, go out, breathe the fresh air and get some exercise."
He and wife also regularly bowl for fun.
Ms Fung is proud that Kaylyn is an active child. Ms Fung says Kaylyn is a good hip-hop dancer who also swims, dances ballet and takes taekwondo lessons.
She encouraged Kaylyn to exercise from a young age to strengthen her muscles.
Ms Fung says: "Since Kaylyn is a girl, being strong physically will help train her to be better equipped at protecting herself in the future."
Keep kids active from young
The World Health Organisation recommends that children get at least an hour of physical activity a day.
Dr Foo Gen Lin from the Ministry of Health says that children should engage in physical activity from a young age.
Dr Foo, a running enthusiast, won the 10km Pocari Sweat Run 2015 in July.
He says: "Exercising has obvious health benefits for children both in the immediate as well as long term.
"It helps the development of strong healthy joints and muscles and reduces the risk of obesity.
"Exercising with other children also helps their psychological development and social skills."
So how young can a child start?
Once the child can run, says Dr Foo. Even running around the playground is exercise, he says.
Running, swimming, playing football and netball are among the recommended exercises.
Dr Foo adds: "Parents should encourage their kids to exercise by making exercise enjoyable and fun. Parents should also walk the talk by taking up exercise themselves and making it a family affair."
However, formalising and structuring exercise too early in a child's life may discourage them, especially when they do not meet certain goals.
Dr Foo says: "I am a new father and understand how difficult it is to find time to exercise. The hardest part for most of us is getting out of the house, so I hope to encourage families to take that first step to enjoy the lifelong benefits of exercise."
About the run
WHAT: Hello Kitty Run Singapore 2015
WHERE: The Float@Marina Bay
WHEN: Dec 19, 5pm
Originating in Taiwan, the Hello Kitty Run was first introduced last year to Japan and Singapore.
In Singapore, it was held on Nov 1, which marked Hello Kitty's 40th birthday. The run saw more than 17,000 participants.
This year, with an expected attendance of around 15,000 people, a new concept has been introduced.
It will be the first time the run is held at night, with landmarks such as The Float@Marina Bay, The Promontory and Marina Bay Sands along the 5km route.
There will be 10 waves of runners, with the first wave starting at 5pm and the last wave leaving at 5.45pm.