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Singapore sport: East beats west in Singapore for physical activity levels, says new study

The Straits Times by LESTER WONG,NICOLE CHIA

Those who live in the eastern part of Singapore are the most physically active here, but put those same people in the west and they are likely to start spending more time on their couches.

According to the Singapore City Active Citizens Worldwide Report 2018 released yesterday by national agency Sport Singapore, 48 per cent of the former group get in 150 minutes of moderate activity weekly compared with 38 per cent for the latter. It also found that more men (48 per cent) are active compared with women (38 per cent), with clear trends to be found across educational backgrounds as well.

Degree holders were the most active (46 per cent) compared with those who did not complete secondary school (40 per cent). The study also estimated that sports and physical activity contribute $3.9 billion and over 33,000 jobs to Singapore's economy annually.

"What this study gives us is tangible evidence which we can use to make some immediate follow-ups," said SportSG chief executive Lim Teck Yin. "So, if physical activity falls significantly below the expected level in a neighbourhood, we can immediately start looking at how we can enhance the provision of sports facilities."

The findings were presented at the ongoing World Cities Summit held at Marina Bay Sands. Singapore is one of three founding cities of the Active Citizens Worldwide project launched in February, together with London and Auckland.

The study was conducted by consulting firm Portas based on data from the 2016 National Sports Participation Survey. SportSG surveyed 9,179 Singapore citizens and permanent residents.

Not every relevant sector of the local sports and physical activity industry is reflected in the $3.9 billion figure, in particular the contribution of sports tourism dollars from marquee events like the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix.

Even so, the figure could be on the low side, said CIMB Private Banking economist Song Seng Wun. He added: "I don't go to the gym but keep active by walking. My contribution is in buying proper walking shoes, but otherwise I am not part of any formal active sporting cycle or economy. And in the context of the whole economy which is valued at more than $400 billion, $3.9 billion is a tiny sliver."

National University of Singapore sociologist Vincent Chua, one of yesterday's speakers, said the findings could help drive the Government's social cohesion efforts.

He said: "People who participate in sport have greater network variety - they are more likely to know people from different socio-economic backgrounds. The Government can facilitate social mixing and other community-building efforts through things like infrastructure, amenities and programmes."