Take A Break, But Watch Your Health!

WE ALL look forward to the holidays and activity-filled days and nights in Singapore, be it Chinese New Year, Christmas, or school breaks. They are times for family gatherings, seeing loved ones and of course, eating!

Of course, these are periods when we have to be even more in check with our health, since we might be busy and tend to do things such as driving long distances and staying up for long periods of time. Which is why most of us tend to feel more tired once the holidays are over, instead of feeling refreshed.

Here are some holiday season tips to get you through without it leaving you fatigued.


Healthy Way old hands

Late Night Activities

While there are certainly health benefits to the cognitive function when one engages in an intense  game of mahjong or card games, potential health problems can arise from excessive and prolonged gaming sessions that last into the wee hours of the morning or even overnight at times.

Dr Jacky Shee, Cluster Head, Healthway Medical Group, advises that the lack of sleep from playing excessively long games can be detrimental to those with existing health problems, and can weaken the immune system of even healthy individuals.

He also recommends avoiding holding one’s bladder for prolonged periods during games as it may lead to dehydration and possible urinary infection, especially in females. Regular breaks and light stretching exercises in between games are recommended as prolonged sitting can lead to neck strain and back aches.

Sometimes even friendly games can get the better of us. For example, when someone beats you in a game just as you’re about to win or the anger you feel when someone cheats to win something.

Intense emotions experienced during games can cause a sudden increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which could increase the risk of possible heart attacks, especially if there is an underlying history of heart problems.

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Long Drives

Dr Phoon Chiu Yong, Cluster Head, Healthway Medical Group highlights that long-distance driving for many hours involves prolonged sitting in a confined space for both drivers and passengers, which can cause strain to the spine. Prolonged sitting will also cause stiffness of leg and thigh muscles. Sometimes, mild swelling of the calves and ankles may occur due to fluid retention.

  • The spine may also be subjected to considerable vibration and jolts from driving on uneven roads, which can cause or aggravate lower back pain.
  • Gripping the steering wheel tightly for long hours will tense up your neck and shoulder muscles, and wrists, resulting in neck and shoulder pain, as well as stiff wrists. Hence it is important to take frequent short rests and to do some stretching exercises.
  • Driving requires continuous concentration on road conditions. It can be mentally stressful especially when driving long hours on congested highways during the festive season. This may cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, which are detrimental for patients with hypertension and heart disease.

PrintThe Healthy Way is a regular health series developed for STORM.SG by Healthway Medical. If you have specific queries, please do email us at health@storm.sg and we will ask the panel of experts for their advice. Do note that only selected queries will be addressed.


Healthy Way DVT

“Though the risk is very low, one could also develop deep vein thrombosis  (DVT), which refers to the formation of blood clots in the deep veins in one’s calves that can occur after prolonged sitting still in a confined space. Painful swelling of the affected leg may be experienced. The risk of DVT may increase with the duration of travel and in individuals with risk factors such as older age, obesity, smoking, pregnancy, recent surgery or limited mobility (e.g. leg in plaster casts)”, added Dr Phoon.

One should have sufficient sleep the night before and not embark on a long journey after a full day of work or activities.

The mental stress from driving can be very taxing. Make sure to get sufficient sleep the night before a long drive and avoid embarking on a long journey after a full day of work or activities. (Read the article Driving The Healthy Way for more tips.)

During long breaks, people let their hair down and try to make up for all the stresses of work and study. While it’s good to relax, you shouldn’t relax your guard when it comes to your health!

Images: Shutterstock

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