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Time Professor - Lam Tai-hing
Time Professor - Lam Tai-hing
Professor Lam Tai-hing
Professor Lam Tai-hing
Principal Investigator of HKJC’s FAMILY Project

“Standing downstream, we see many people drowning. Yet even if we jump in, we can’t save everyone. Someone has to go upstream and stop them from jumping in the first place.”

Realising prevention is the key to addressing issues in medicine and healthy living, Professor Lam Tai-hing, now 66, has spent most of his life working “upstream” where his research on the relationship between smoking and health has made vital contributions to tobacco control.

The significance of such responsibility has meant that Lam hardly has had any time for rest. Though an advocate for healthy living, he also has had zero time for exercise. He thus founded Zero Time Exercise to help busy Hongkongers work out at any time and any place, which not only helps them get fit, but also serves as a way for them to meet others as well as forge closer relations with family.

Lam is close not just to his wife but also to his parents-in-law – who are now both in their 90s. After 30 years of a happy marriage to his first love, Lam believes one of the greatest challenges in life is to uphold traditional family values and promote family harmony despite living in a changing modern society.

Finding time to exercise while engaging in research and tobacco control has been a challenge for Professor Lam. To “save himself”, he launched Zero Time Exercise, turning himself from tobacco control ambassador into an exercise expert.
 “Tobacco control ambassador” turned “exercise expert”

After graduating from the School of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong 40 years ago, Lam chose to dedicate his life to research instead of practicing medicine. Rather than prescribing treatments, Lam focuses on understanding what causes illnesses, and how to reduce the risks of falling ill in the first place.

Research work takes up most of Lam’s time – so much so that he has to read and reply to emails even during overseas holidays. He personally reviews every paper and essay his students submit, even if that means he may not get to sleep until around 4 in the morning. He admits: “24 hours a day is not enough for work – where do I find the time for exercise?”

As a professor of medicine, Lam understands that all four major risk factors for chronic, non-communicable diseases – smoking, alcohol, unhealthy diet and insufficient exercise – can increase the chance of one falling ill. Addressing the first three factors, Lam has pushed for policies aimed at promoting a balanced diet and alcohol and tobacco control. He even took it upon himself to kick his smoking habit. However, the persistent problem of insufficient exercise – which even he has fallen victim to – still had him stumped.

To “save himself”, Prof Lam organised Zero Time Exercise, with “zero” meaning “zero additional time” spent on exercising. By sharing time otherwise spent on daily chores, office work, studying at home, and watching TV with simple training exercises, anyone can become an expert in exercising and build up their physical wellbeing anytime, anywhere, while helping redefine what it means to “exercise”.

Since graduating from the School of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong 40 years ago, Professor Lam has dedicated his life to research, hoping to help the public avert ill health through understanding what causes illnesses.
Making himself the “lab rat”, Prof Lam tested the effectiveness of Zero Time exercise and succeeded in losing five kilos and shrinking his waist by two inches.
Bringing families closer through Zero Time Exercise

“How can I ask someone else to practise what I cannot deliver?” Lam hence became his own “lab rat” in a bid to prove the effectiveness of Zero Time Exercise. Even as Lam worked long hours in the office, he did leg raises and pedalling exercises, both while seated. He said with pride: “I have lost five kilos and shaved two inches off my waist over the past years!”

Zero Time Exercise sometimes also has additional bonuses, for example one can save time and improve cardio fitness by walking briskly to a destination. When asked about the effectiveness of Zero Time Exercise, Lam stressed the importance in taking the first step. Even with just a minute of exercise, one will slowly see improvement in one’s muscle strength and endurance, and this sense of achievement may translate into a drive to exercise more – and eventually a habit of exercise will develop.

Lam intends Zero Time Exercise to be not just a way to healthier living, but also a bridge to building family harmony. “Why not turn the walk to your evening meal or your grocery trip into an occasion to train your calf muscles and build a closer relationship with your family?” As Principal Investigator of HKJC’s FAMILY Project, which is supported by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, Lam wishes to help members of the public embrace healthier and happier living, as well as more harmonious family relations. He intends Zero Time Exercise to achieve all of these, while also helping to redefine our understanding of how we spend our time. He added:  “If you want to live a happier life and get along better with your family, you should also learn to say ‘thank you’ to your family members.” This is but one of Professor Lam’s many down-to-earth ways of ensuring family harmony.

As Principal Investigator of HKJC’s FAMILY Project, which is supported by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, Professor Lam wishes to help members of the public embrace healthier and happier living, as well as more harmonious family relations.
HKJC’s FAMILY Project
Website: https://www.family.org.hk/
Email: jcfamily@hku.hk
Phone no: 3917 6824 / 3917 6702

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