Monday, 25 September 2017

Exceptional people: NTU freshman wants to graduate 10,000 migrant workers from his school

Into his freshman year at Nanyang Technological University, Mr Sazzad Hossain is busy juggling the demands of his engineering course – and running his own school that has so far taught English to some 5,000 migrant Bangladeshi workers.

Even more ambitiously, the 23-year-old is aiming to double that number to 10,000 in a year’s time. That has meant running between lectures at school; teaching classes at SDI Academy’s various locations; and visiting worker dormitories to hand out flyers, even on a public holiday.

He started by giving informal lessons around a park bench with 4 - 5 workers, and the group started to grow.

Today those small beginnings have grown into a massive social enterprise, with classes held at five locations, including at Yale-NUS College. They are run by eight part-time teachers, two full-time staff and 200 volunteers.

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Exceptional people: A friend to the homeless

It all began in the form of a desperate plea Abraham heard from tsunami survivors while on a trip to Japan in 2012 to help with disaster relief efforts.

“They had been made homeless by the tsunami, and they felt forgotten,” he said. “And the one thing they kept saying was, please don’t forget us.

“That really touched my heart, and when I came back to Singapore, I started noticing elderly people around. So I thought it was only right that I help the people in Singapore as well.”

Abraham and a homeless friend

Today, their informal volunteer group, known as the Homeless Hearts of Singapore, has about 10 regulars who gather every fortnight to seek out and visit their homeless friends.

A meal here. An embrace there. Visits to the Night Festival or movie theatres to catch a show. Together with his informal group of volunteers, Abraham does his best to make it happen, in a bid to make sure that these people – living on the margins of society and whiling their days away in shopping malls, fast-food restaurants or deserted HDB void decks – are not forgotten.

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Endorphins: Body's natural painkillers

Endorphins are morphine-like chemicals produced by the body that help diminish pain while triggering positive feelings.

They are sometimes referred to as the brain's "feel-good" chemicals, and are the body's natural painkillers.

They are released from the pituitary gland of the brain during periods of strenuous exercise, emotional stress, pain, and orgasm.

Endorphins help relieve pain and induce feelings of pleasure or euphoria. They play an important role in the brain's reward system, which includes activities such as eating, drinking, sex, and maternal behavior.

Our body's other "happy hormones" include serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin.

No food products contain whole endorphins for easy consumption, several endorphin-stimulating foods boast high levels of the vitamins and minerals that play a large part in boosting your brain's production like vitamin B12, vitamin C, zinc, potassium, and iron.

Here are some food you can eat that will encourage your brain's endorphin release:
  • Chocolate
  • Strawberries
  • Animal proteins
  • Oranges
  • Spicy foods
  • Grapes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Ginseng

Get your butt off that chair and live

Too much time spent in a chair could shorten our lives, even if we exercise, according to a study that uses objective measures to find the links between lengthy sitting time and death among middle-aged and older adults.

The men and women who sat for the most hours every day, according to their accelerometer data, had the highest risk for early death, especially if this sitting often continued for longer than 30 minutes at a stretch. The risk was unaffected by age, race, gender or body mass.

But, interestingly, the risk of early death did drop if sitting time was frequently interrupted. People whose time spent sitting usually lasted for less than 30 minutes at a stretch were less likely to have died than those whose sitting was more prolonged, even if the total hours of sitting time were the same.

This study was, however, associational. It cannot prove too much sitting undermines health, only that the two were linked.


Brisk walking

Brisk walking means walking fast enough to make you feel slightly breathless, but yet comfortable enough to let you hold a conversation with a companion at the same time. It is a low-impact sport suitable for everyone, regardless of your fitness level.

Speeds vary among individuals, but brisk walking usually requires you to move at least 5 km/h, ie you should walk 1 km within 12 minutes. You should experience a slight elevation of your heart rate, heavier breathing and you should start sweating a little after a while.

Health benefits

It has been suggested that there is a relationship between the speed of walking and mortality, and that the best results are obtained with a speed of more than 4 km/hr.

Walking fast vs big stride

Over-striding is a poor technique to increase speed and it has a potential to lead to injury in the long term unless you do it the correct way. The best way to brisk walking is still walking fast with short strides.

Video by HPB: The Correct Way to Brisk Walking for Better Health