“Being active and being healthy is not about being on the cover of Men’s Health – it shouldn’t be about aesthetics,” says Allan Wu. “Exercise is about enhancing your quality of life, because you’re happier, you have a regular release of endorphins and adrenaline, you’re sick less often, and you have a sense of accomplishment.” It’s this ethos that Wu, the Singapore-based television host and actor, abides by, though if he can’t get a workout session in he knows not to beat himself up over it.
"Understanding our bodies is a learning process, and it’s lifelong."
This month, Wu will be seen hosting The Day I Ran China, a tourism employment-based reality show produced by the Discovery Channel in which apprentices (from all over the world) experiences the country’s various industries so as to arm them with a better understanding of the culture and its fast-growing sectors. Shot in eight provinces across China earlier this year, Wu travelled essentially non-stop while the rest of the world went into Covid-induced lockdown, and was thankful to be on the road. “It was a long and exhausting project but I was so thankful to be able to travel and to move around rather than being stuck here doing push-ups wondering when my next job will be,” he says.
While travelling, it was near impossible for Wu to get to a gym, and he concedes that for an entire month he didn’t work out. “With age though I’ve come to a middle ground. Ten or twenty years ago I would freak out, but I realised with time that that anxiety is unfounded. If you don’t have the time in a day, or you’re not mentally prepared, then sometimes it’s just as important to take the rest too, and knowing your body and your energy levels is important and helps to guide you. Understanding our bodies is a learning process, and it’s lifelong.
"It’s not about how we look, but taking care of our bones, our joints, firing the synapses, getting things boosted on a cellular level."
As we approach World Mental Health Day, which is observed on Saturday 10th October, Wu recalls an old Greek saying that he learned in primary school, A sound mind in a sound body, which highlights the inextricable link between physical wellbeing and mental equilibrium. “I think they’re completely interconnected, because if we’re healthy and we don’t have back pain or whatever else then we are instantly more positive. We are so much more sedentary in this day and age, and because it’s so hot and humid in Singapore people tend not to want to go outside, but the impact it can have on our mental state when we are active is incredible.”
And being active, Wu says, doesn’t necessarily meaning sweating it out at the gym. “There’s so many options available to us – it can be as simple as going for a stroll, or something adventurous, like deep-sea diving. There’s cycling or swimming or HIIT classes. We’re all living longer, so 40 is the 30, and 50 is the new 40, which means we have to invest in our bodies now so that we can get the most out of them later on. It’s not about how we look, but taking care of our bones, our joints, firing the synapses, getting things boosted on a cellular level. Everything is a lot more efficient when you’re staying active and staying healthy.”