Vital sets sight on a healthier you

Rizal Faisal

A group of third year Bachelor of Health Science (Medicine) students at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) organised a community project dubbed ‘Vital,’ aiming to highlight health education and decrease health misinformation among adolescents as part of their module.

The initiative is supported and done in collaboration with UBD and the Health Promotion Centre, Ministry of Health, with sponsorships by the Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC), DST and Cuckoo among others.

The third year medical students who make up Vital are Wong Chi, Danial bin Ali Hamdani, Hong Rou Qin @ Hong You Ju, Layla Sofiya binti Juffry, Michael Koh Zheng Sheng and Wong Tze Loong @ Alex Brandon.

Various sixth form centres experienced the Vital tour recently, where topics on mental health, sleep, nutrition and exercise were brought up.

“Mental well-being is forged with the ability to be positive in life by managing feelings and behaviours, realistic assessment of limitation, autonomy and ability to cope with stress,” Danial said.

“Sleep is essential in life, where 15 per cent of our genes actually directly help the circadian rhythms, cellular repairs and removing neuro garbage. Sleep is a time for the prefrontal cortex to relax, process information and consolidate memory and knowledge,” he said.

Vital’s sleep tips include stopping the intake of caffeine eight hours before sleep, ensuring a clean sleeping environment, avoiding blue light and conducting a relaxation ritual (such as meditation or making a gratefulness journal) one to two hours before bed.

The Vital team promoting health awareness at the Meragang Sixth Form Centre. PHOTO: VITAL

Vital also cited that while most of us are sleep deprived, naps (to be taken from 10 to 30 minutes) are important, bringing improved wakefulness, performance, short-term memory and learning ability. Naps over 30 minutes should be avoided as it will affect our mood, bring loss of productivity and sleep inertia (decreased alertness and performance when waking up).

Vital emphasises the importance of including a healthy diet and having enough nutrition by generally eating healthy to protect from non-communicable diseases.

“A healthy eating plate would include the use of healthy oils for cooking, on salad and at the table; limiting butter, consuming more vegetables in greater varieties, eating plenty of fruits; drinking water, tea or coffee with little or no sugar; limiting milk/dairy and juice; and avoiding sugary drinks at all times. Eat a variety of whole grains and limiting refined grains as well as a regular choice of fish, poultry, beans and nuts while avoiding cold cuts and other processed meats,” Danial said.

It is also important to avoid skipping meals as it causes us to miss out on nutrients; cause an energy stress, affecting the way we think and learn, is linked to obesity and greater likelihood in unhealthy snacking; and may have effects on mental health.

Getting enough exercise is no less important. The Vital team suggested aerobics exercise or resistance training.

Aerobics exercises include zumba, cycling, swimming, jogging and hiking, while anaerobics are in the forms of bodybuilding, weightlifting, power lifting, shot put and discus throws.

Stretching would include yoga and balance through flying yoga and trampoline.

“A 30-minute of moderate-intensity aerobic activity five days per week, or 20 minutes of vigorous activity three days per week to have a sense of contentment and achievement, runner’s-high endorphins, mobility in older years, organ health and a means of longevity,” they said.

However, it is also important that we prevent sports injuries, the team said.

To ensure this, we must have a slow progression into the exercise, using proper equipment like the correct shoes, dynamic stretching as opposed to static stretching, have a coach or personal trainer whenever possible and letting the body rest.

Apart from reaching out to sixth form students at Meragang Sixth Form Centre, Tutong Sixth Form Centre, Duli Pengiran Muda Al-Muhtadee Billah College, Sengkurong Sixth Form Centre, Sayyidina Ali Secondary School (sixth form) and Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Science College, Vital also caters to the general public.

Generally, Vital carries out talks at sixth form centres, prepare questionnaires; and conduct online focus group discussions, recorded webinars and talks by professionals in the various fields, through podcast, moving away from rigid lecture style Q & A to a more conversational tone to achieve an informal and easy going atmosphere, so that the target audience (teenagers) can relate in a more emotive and direct way.

Danial and his team also shared a simple Health Cheat Sheet.

HEALTH CHEAT SHEET:

– Get your basics right. Sleep, exercise and eat well.
– Try meditation (Try…Headspace Take 10.)
– More veggies don’t hurt. Cut the carbs.
– Sleep eight to 10 hours.
– Cut out caffeine eight hours before.
– Wind down with a relaxing ritual. Booster nap 10-30 minutes.
– Do aerobic and weight exercises. (30 minutes, five times per week).