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Promoting an active lifestyle through partnerships

Opening remarks by Mr Edwin Tong, Minister For Culture, Community and Youth, And Second Minister For Law, At The World Health, Fitness & Wellness Festival 2022

Ladies and Gentlemen

  1. Good morning, everyone.
  2. Such a pleasure to be here this morning at the World Health, Fitness and Wellness Festival 2022. 
  3. For those of you who have travelled from abroad, welcome to Singapore. Isn’t it great that we are here in-person, meeting face-to-face? I hope you have a great time in Singapore, networking, making reconnections and new connections as you spend the next couple of days here.
  4. The past couple of years have been incredibly difficult for many of you here in this room.

    a. The nature of your industry meant that many of your businesses could not operate during the pandemic.

    b. Many have had to restructure or downsize, and some even had to close permanently.

    c. Your colleagues and employees were hit very hard, and some were forced to find different roles – some within the same industry, and many others in different industries.

    d. I thoroughly appreciate the efforts from all of you, every stakeholder in Singapore in the fitness industry. From working with the government to making sure that whilst we manage the pandemic and look after the livelihood of the industry, we still have a very clear eye on what it takes for us to keep our population safe and come out of this pandemic in a safe and confident way.

    e. A big thank you to all the people in this room and beyond, who have worked with us, shared your stories with us, and gave us a lot more insights to how to manage the pandemic.

    f. I came to this industry in July 2020 in the middle of the pandemic, and I appreciated all the guidance and experience that you have shared.

  5. Even as we look ahead, it is useful to look back at one or two things that has changed permanently. Most obviously, it has made the effort and sacrifice required to keep ourselves healthy. 

    a. For many of us, health was something we sometimes took for granted.

    b. We exercised when we could, and we went to the doctor when we fell ill.

  6. I think the pandemic changed a lot of that.

    a. We were all forced to become “experts” in infectious diseases and safe management measures.

    b. We learnt the inner workings of our healthcare system – how many cases, how many needed oxygen etc

  7. In short, health and wellness, as a result of the pandemic,

    a. Is not just for the management and cure of diseases, but the prevention of disease as well. How do you live better? How do you ensure that you don’t see the doctor only when you are unwell?

    b. The early interventions and other lifestyle changes which reduce the risk of chronic conditions is the way to go.

    c. In this regard, the health, wellness and fitness industry play a key role in the long-term interest and direction of Singapore to entrench the wellness philosophy and mindset, in our population.

  8. In Singapore, many of you already know that we have a strong, robust healthcare system,

    a. And we are now embarking on a new initiative, melding healthcare into wellness,

    b. We call this Healthier SG.

  9. This is a life-course approach to keep individuals healthy,

    a. By mobilising our network of family doctors,

    b. And more importantly, drive lifestyle adjustments and changes, which happen outside of clinics and in our day-to-day living environments.

  10. We hope to promote an active lifestyle through partnerships with community activities and programmes,

    a. Where family doctors, instead of medical prescriptions, can provide “social prescriptions”, such as to taking part in events, signing up for yoga courses, and going to spend time with family with an active, health and fitness regime.

  11. Many of you here are already part of our healthcare ecosystem.

    a. As you would know, such collaborations between medical professionals and community partners already exist.

  12. I know many of you have come to Singapore thinking of our sporting landscape. We are welcoming of anyone who would want to come here and set up in Singapore.

    a. We look forward to doing even more with you, and to develop an integrated health ecosystem within each region in Singapore.

    b. We want to make sure that when we work with these different networks, we can build healthcare clusters that are integrated with community partners to better support our population’s needs,

    c. And more importantly, focussing on improving the quality of life for everyone.

  13. In the last couple of years, we brought home the message that ‘health’ and ‘wellness’ are not two ends of the spectrum. It can also converge in the middle such as looking after someone’s wellbeing.

    a. Physical fitness itself is linked to emotional and mental wellbeing

    b. And improving one, inevitable and immeasurably, improves the other.

  14. Singaporeans by and large know this.

    a. In fact, compared to 2019, the percentage of Singaporeans who participate in a physical activity at least once a week has increased to almost three-quarters of the population.

    b. We want to go further, and this has given us a good start.

  15. Just yesterday, we released an updated set of Singapore Physical Activity Guidelines,

    a. It is a rallying call to reduce sedentary behaviour and incorporate a wide range of movements into your regular exercise regime.

    b. We want to do this so that more people are able to reap the multiple benefits that exercise, and sport can bring:

    c. Including immunity, health, overall wellbeing and mental wellbeing.

  16. We also recently concluded the inaugural Wellness Festival Singapore, held over the past week or so,

    a. Which was launched to promote holistic wellbeing, and to position Singapore as an urban wellness haven,

    b. And more importantly, catalyse partnerships among industry players.

    c. It involved over a hundred industry partners, many of whom are in the audience today.

    d. I hope some of you managed to catch it, and many of you, hopefully, will be participating in it in years to come.

  17. There are lots of new and exciting things happening in this space, and the vibe that I felt at the coffee session earlier is the best testimony to that.

    a. If there is one thing that is clear in my view, it is that the conditions are ripe for collaboration and innovation.

    b. Population behaviours have changed, with increased attention on preventive care,

    c. And a recognition of the benefits that physical activity can bring to holistic wellbeing.

    d. How and when we choose to exercise has also changed. I saw earlier that we now have apps that make bookings easy, as they are integrated into your calendar on a day-to-day basis.

    e. Never before has your industry been so connected, and so willing to work together to share ideas, build up thought leadership and work with the government, as we look at how we can ensure that structures are in place to help regulate the industry.

    f. This is so that users will feel safe coming onboard, and the practice can be seen not just as a past time, but one that is central to the entire well-being ecosystem.

  18. The opportunity to innovate, collaborate and cross fertilise ideas is there. Our agencies, SportSG, Health Promotion Board (HPB) and several other government agencies are also here today. In the dialogues, breakout and networking sessions, speak to them about the possible opportunities in Singapore for us to work with you and partner with you, so that Singapore remains a place where the infrastructure and business environment are conducive.
  19. Finally, let me just end by congratulating the organisers, FIT Summit, on a very exciting event. Thank you very much to everyone who is involved in it from the start to the end. I am very glad that all of you are here, seeing each other, networking in person.

    a. FIT Summit has come a long way since 2018,

    b. Their virtual events in 2020 and 2021 have no doubt helped to keep the industry connected, but all of us will agree that given the opportunity, we would rather have this in-person rather than seeing each other on a zoom call.

    c. Ross, Sean and others were also instrumental in the creation of the Singapore Fitness Alliance. They were one of those who we leaned on quite a bit when we look at how to manage the industry over the pandemic. Thank you very much.

    d. They are a non-profit industry association of fitness and wellness companies, promoting a community of industry partners to champion the health and wellbeing of Singapore and Singaporeans.

    e. It is important that we take the opportunity here to ride the wave of growth and opportunity that we now have.

    f. And if there is one silver lining that the pandemic has brought over, now more than ever, the industry and private partners are really invigorated and very much aligned in wanting to make this work.

  20. On that note, let me just wish all of you a great time ahead. Thank you very much.
Last updated on 28 June 2022