Make time for exercise, instead of making excuses

The end goal of hiking is to be fit, so it is important to do it at your own pace and stop if you feel you cannot go on, advises Dr Matin (left).

MAKE exercise a priority and plan everything else around it, not the other way around.

This is how Dr Matin Mellor Abdullah manages time out of his busy schedule as consultant clinical oncologist and radiotherapist at Subang Jaya Medical Centre, Selangor.

“As healthcare professionals, we are on call 24/7. But I allocate a few hours every weekend to go hiking, since with age it becomes even more necessary to stay fit, ” he says.

Dr Matin is a regular golfer but started hiking two years ago as he felt the need to do more rigorous exercise.

“I wasn’t losing any weight playing golf because it does not require much physical movement. Some friends even joked that golf is not an exercise at all!

“I realised I needed to do more to keep healthy and hiking seemed a fun way to stay fit, ” he says.

In response to the dangers of hiking and reports of climbers who got lost or perished in their attempt to reach the mountain summit, Dr Matin stresses: “The end goal is to stay healthy and become fitter. So it is important to take your own time, hike at your own pace and stop if you feel you cannot go on.

“When hiking in groups, someone should take on the role of sweeper – a person who is responsible for keeping the group together. If someone goes hiking alone, it is crucial that he knows the trail well or has a map of the trails.

“The use of proper hiking gear is crucial, but while everyone knows about the importance of proper hiking shoes and attire, people should not underestimate the necessity of having a hiking stick, because hiking puts a lot of pressure on the knee and ankle joints.

So a hiking stick can help relieve much of that pressure, ” he advises.

Dr Matin is a member of a hiking group that consists of professionals – from doctors, lawyers to developers and business owners. The group climbed Mount Kinabalu last year and is planning to go back next year. They have also travelled to Indonesia and Australia for hikes and plan to hike up Mount Kilimanjaro in the near future.

Last year, while climbing Mount Kinabalu, Dr Matin collaborated with Cancer Research Malaysia and pledged to raise RM1 for every foot hiked up Mount Kinabalu. He didn’t manage to summit Mount Kinabalu because of an injured knee and discourages pushing oneself too much for the sake of reaching a summit.

“With hiking, you should move at your own pace because you are in competition with no one but yourself. It is crucial to understand your limits, stick to it and slowly increase your expertise through continuous training, ” he says.

While he is a hiking enthusiast, he is all for any kind of exercise so long as it is done regularly. Being an oncologist, he stresses that regular exercise and an active lifestyle can keep weight in check, which in turns aids in preventing certain forms of cancer.

“There are many kinds of cancer that are associated with obesity such as breast, colorectal liver cancers and others. Obesity is associated with many other diseases as well, including diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. By keeping fit, you can reduce the chances of cancer along with a wide range of other diseases.”

Dr Matin hopes that he can inspire more people to make exercise and maintaining an ideal body weight a priority instead of making excuses to continue leading an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle. The reward can be immense.

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