With fast-food chains popping up in the Kingdom at a rapid rate, encouraging processed indulgence, Cambodians are taking it upon themselves to lead an active lifestyle in conjunction with a healthy diet to stay in shape.
Chav Noun, a fitness trainer at Superfit Fitness and Health Club on Mao Tse Tung Boulevard, says making exercise part of one’s normal routine is essential for everybody.
“Exercise is as important as earning money,” says Noun, who believes that maintaining one’s health is directly proportional to work productivity.
“If you are unhealthy, you cannot perform your work very well.”
Noun suggests doing moderate exercise, like walking and slow jogging, five to six times a week, although three to four higher intensity sessions a week are also suitable.
Sitting at an office desk for hours on end each day invites bad posture, a burgeoning laziness, and susceptibility to keep reaching for the munchies. And that is why Lim Chhourng, a bank officer at the Foreign Trade Bank of Cambodia, has incorporated running and weight lifting into his daily routine for the past ten years.
“I love exercising so much,” he gushes. Keeping his body strong and healthy is definitely Chhourng’s priority, and a decade of regular exercise has paid off in his keeping common sicknesses at bay.
While some people are self-starters when it comes to motivating themselves to exercise, others need that extra helping hand by engaging a personal trainer – or more commonly referred to as PT.
Kulnapa Pumithanes, a 26-year-old art director at advertising company FCB Cambodia, was inspired by a friend to change her lifestyle around by eating healthy and taking up regular exercise.
To jump start her health kick, Pumithanes hired a PT to guide her through a workout plan in addition to providing her with a clean-eating food plan.
Eating clean, while slow to sweep through the country, is synonymous with what has now been termed ‘superfoods’, with a couple of specialised food shops in the capital serving up gluten-free foods, ‘power bowls’ consisting of superfoods like quinoa, avocado, brown rice and organic meats, and no-carbohydrate pasta dishes.
“I found out that the clean food plan is not really hard to eat at all,” she says.
“For example, [clean eating involves] substituting white rice with brown rice, changing my cooking oil to extra virgin olive oil, and eating more fruits and vegetables as well as reducing my intake of carbohydrates.”
While every body type is different, with some people finding it easier to lose weight than others, Pumithanes says people must be dedicated and consistent if they want to lead an active lifestyle.
“Nothing is impossible if you really have a high commitment to yourself,” she adds.
In addition to following a clean eating food plan, Pumithanes says taking supplements is another way to ensure you are nourishing your body. She takes fish oil as supplements to her diet.
“Fish oil is good to support your joints and bones when you exercise.”
Lyhout Hak, business development manager at supplement shop Nutrition Warehouse, explains that while a large chunk of the company’s clients are expatriates, recently more Cambodians have been taking an interest in supplements to aid a healthy diet and exercise regime.
“It is more popular now than before that our Cambodian customers are starting to want to discover more about our products,” he says, adding that specialised supplement stores can provide tailored advice to ensure customers are buying the supplements in line with their needs.
“Supplements can be used whether you want to gain or lose weight, and either way, you can stay healthy.”