Singaporeans doubled down on keeping healthy amid COVID-19 with 3 in 4 making improvements in their health as a result

August 27, 2020 - 04:30
Singaporeans doubled down on keeping healthy amid COVID-19 with 3 in 4 making improvements in their health as a result

Takeaways from the AIA Real Rewards Poll 2020 highlight the value of an all-rounded approach to health, and provides insights on opportunities to further support Singaporeans on their health journey


SINGAPORE - Media OutReach -27 August 2020 - AIASingapore today announced findings from the AIA Real Rewards Poll 2020 whichrevealed that:

  • As a result of COVID-19,two-thirds (65%) of Singaporeans realise that they have been taking theirhealth for granted,
  • With more than 7 in 10(72%) defining the true value of good health as living healthier, longer,better lives with their families and loved ones in today's socially distantworld, and
  • A whopping 93%prioritised staying healthy over other pursuits to get through the circuitbreaker period.
  • As a result, a significantthree quarters of respondents (75%) recorded an improvement in at least oneaspect of their well-being -- whether in terms of improved eating habits,physical health, sleeping pattern, or mental health -- within 8 weeks from thestart of the Circuit Breaker in early April 2020.

The study was conductedamongst 875 participants in mid-June 2020 as Singapore moved into phase two ofsafe reopening.

"It is encouraging that, in these trying times, Singaporeans have taken stepsto make positive changes to their health, and they are already reaping therewards of these simple actions. Our aim is to support even more Singaporeansto achieve their health goals, building on this momentum to enable them totruly live healthier, longer, better lives.

We know that it is notenough to only take care of our physical health. This is why, as a leadinginsurer in the health space, we take a holistic approach to protecting ourcustomers' wellbeing across financial, physical, and mental health," said Ms Melita Teo, Chief Customer andDigital Officer, AIA Singapore.

The AIA Real Rewards Poll 2020, combined with an analysis of AIAVitality members' health, provided three note-worthy insights for Singapore.

#1: Singaporeansare adapting by looking beyond keeping active to stay healthy: A well-roundedapproach to health includes eating well and getting adequate sleep


Singaporeans did not compromise on eating right asthey continue to spend approximately S$470 a month personally on healthy food,even as they reduced overall living expenses amid the pandemic. Instead, theygot healthier and saved money by cutting down expenses on junk food andalcohol. 

  • Overall, Singaporeanswere placing a high priority on making healthier choices, allocating thehighest portion of the living expenses (34%) on healthier meal choices.


Aside from nutrition, Singaporeans are also adapting by paying off theirsleep debt. Adults are recommended to get approximately 7 -- 9 hours of sleepdaily[1].

  • More than 2 in 5 (43%)of Singaporeans have improved their sleeping habits in this period, pointing toreduced commuting time as the key reason why.
  • This is also reflected in sleep patterns of AIA Vitality members: There weretwice as many qualifying sleeps tracked on the wellness programme -- of at least7 hours daily -- during the Circuit Breaker compared to the preceding months.

The need to address sleep deprivation is especially critical inSingapore, which ranks as the third most sleep-deprived city in the world.[2]AIA launched the #OneMoreHour initiative last year, encouraging people to getan additional hour of sleep, with a contenthub created to helpimprove their sleeping habits.

This follows from a 2019 study AIA conducted which found that 56% ofSingaporeans get six or lesser hours of sleep each night and more than half worryabout not getting adequate sleep or want to get more. 3 in 5 (59%) agreeingthat getting one more hour of sleep would boost their mood and energy.[3]

In addition to the multiple negative impact on health, sleep loss comesat an economic cost too. Developed economies are estimated to be losing 2 -- 3 %of their annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a result of insufficient sleep.[4]


#2: Keepinghealthy helps Singaporeans better manage their mental health: More needs to bedone to ensure Singapore's mental well-being


Unsurprisingly,approximately 3 in 5 (60%) of Singaporeans are anxious about ourpost-coronavirus world.

Keeping healthy hashelped many manage their stress and anxiety:

  • Approximately 1 in 3(30%) Singaporeans reported improvements to their mental health during COVID-19-- aided by simple steps such as getting at least seven hours of sleep, eatingmore nutritious meals, and spending quality time with loved ones.
  • Multiple aspects ofkeeping healthy contribute to improved mental well-being[5].


However, a similarnumber of Singaporeans also reported a decline in their mental health due toincreased stress and anxiety (30%). This echoes a worrying trend seen elsewherein Singapore as a result of the pandemic. The National Care Hotline, set up inApril 2020 to provide additional support for people facing mental healthchallenges, received more than 6,600 calls by the end of the same month withapproximately 1,000 people identified as requiring even more targeted supportthereafter[6].

#3: Singaporecontinues to be the most active in Asia, even amid COVID-19: Nurturing astronger healthy-living culture a joint responsibility of the public andprivate sector


Compared to theircounterparts across the region, AIA Vitality members inSingapore were the most active group:


  • Despite the pandemic, membersin Singapore recorded the highest percentage of workouts tracked on theprogramme between January to May 2020 amongst 12 markets acrossAsia-Pacific. 
  • Even before COVID-19,AIA Vitality members in Singapore have consistently been amongst the mostactive. For members who are active on the programme's Weekly Fitness Challenge,more than half typically exceed the minimum weekly target.

"The success of ournation's initiatives to encourage healthy living is evident in the continuedhigh levels of activity amongst Singaporeans despite the Circuit Breakermeasures, with many finding creative ways to continue keeping fit while workingfrom home. This is encouraging, and speaks to the immense opportunity we, theprivate sector, have to continue nurturing a healthy-living culture inSingapore and improving the health of our population," shared Ms Teo.

With more than 100,000members in Singapore alone, AIA Vitality was the first wellness programmeintroduced by an insurer locally in 2013 and has since yielded significanthealth results:

  • Strong clinicaloutcomes[7]for members including improvements in glucose levels, blood pressure, cholesterollevels and BMI.
  • The impact of AIAVitality has been most salient amongst members who were initially reported tobe in the unhealthy age. On average, they have gotten "younger", reversingtheir Vitality Age by approximately 2 years since joining the programme. Thedifference between members' Vitality Age compared to their biological age hassince shrunk by half. Vitality Age is a measure of how healthy an individual isrelative to their actual age.

Designed by medical experts, AIA Vitality stands out for itswell-rounded approach to health. The programme is constantly being evolved tohelp members better understand and improve their own health. These ongoing enhancementsare developed based on insights gleaned from data on members' healthimprovements, continued research, and behavioural science, amongst others.

To help individuals andfamilies in Singapore embrace new norms of reaching their health goals at home,AIA hosted AIA Live on 2 August 2020, an online event where AIA GlobalAmbassador David Beckham, award-winning chef Jeremy Pang and celebrities fromacross Asia Pacific came together to explore how to achieve healthier,longer, better lives together. Local celebrities Andie Chen, Andrew Marko, andAmanda Chaang were part of the exciting line-up for the day. AIA Live covered multiple aspects ofhealth and wellness including sessions on fitness, meditation, making healthiermeals, body positivity, and more. A recording of the full AIA Live programme isavailable for viewing here:

[1] 'How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?' (2020) Information available at:  

[3] 'Get#OneMoreHouse of sleep for a healthier, longer, better life' (2019) AIA.Information available at:

[4] 'Investingin sleep for health and wellbeing dividends. A view from one of Asia's leadingsleep scientists.' (2019). Dr Michael Chee, Professor, Duke-NUS Medical Schooland Principle of the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. Member of AIA's Healthier,Longer, Better Lives Advisory Board. Information available at:

[5] 10 EssentialTips for Mental Well-Being' (2020) HealthHub. Information available at:

[6] 'Mental health fallout: How COVID-19 hasaffected those in Singapore. (9 May 2020) The Straits Times. Janice Tai. SocialAffairs Correspondent. Information available at:

[7] Metricsimprovements tabulated based on members' first submission and latest submissionof their health screening results.

About AIA

AIA Group Limited and itssubsidiaries (collectively "AIA" or the "Group") comprise the largestindependent publicly listed pan-Asian life insurance group. It has a presencein 18 markets in Asia-Pacific -- wholly-owned branches and subsidiaries inMainland China, Hong Kong SAR[8], Thailand, Singapore,Malaysia, Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, SouthKorea, Taiwan (China), Vietnam, Brunei, Macau SAR[9], New Zealand, a 99 percent subsidiary in Sri Lanka, and a 49 per cent joint venture in India.

The business that is nowAIA was first established in Shanghai more than a century ago in 1919. It is amarket leader in the Asia-Pacific region (ex-Japan) based on life insurancepremiums and holds leading positions across the majority of its markets. It hadtotal assets of US$291 billion as of 30 June 2020.

AIA meets the long-termsavings and protection needs of individuals by offering a range of products andservices including life insurance, accident and health insurance and savingsplans. The Group also provides employee benefits, credit life and pensionservices to corporate clients. Through an extensive network of agents, partnersand employees across Asia-Pacific, AIA serves the holders of more than 36million individual policies and over 16 million participating members of groupinsurance schemes.

AIA Group Limited is listed on the Main Board ofThe Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited under the stock code "1299" withAmerican Depositary Receipts (Level 1) traded on the over-the-counter market(ticker symbol: "AAGIY").

[8] Hong KongSAR refers to Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

[9] Macau SARrefers to Macau Special Administrative Region.