WORK WORK WORK. We know how it goes; whether driven by passion, success, money, or necessity we live in a time where people work extremely hard. Working hard can mean long hours and long hours usually translates to some type of undesirable situation like fatigue, stiffness, achiness, boredom and the list goes on. Fortunately, human beings are resilient and can recharge much more quickly than they are broken down. In a growing field of research there is a tremendous amount of focus put on the mental and social components of health and well-being, particularly in the corporate setting. There are two things that have been shown to significantly help solidify sustainable health practices: 1. Breaking the routine by doing something outdoors. 2. Getting active with a friend or group of people. Not only do these studies tell us that working out together and being outdoors has a better chance of creating lasting healthy habits they also show how obviously important physical activity is for a myriad of other health benefits that range from improved attitude and focus to decreased risk of many types of degenerative diseases. A lot of times the ONLY thing that is preventing us from getting off our butts and moving is that extra motivation.
Fortunately, Singapore is one of the easiest cities to enjoy a wide range of activities that are accessible, fun, AND adventurous. Along with a highly active population not only can you find fun things to do you can usually find a great crew to explore new adventures with. Regardless of your experience and fitness level there are always more ways to get involved in outdoor activities and more people willing to join you in the process. Here are some tips on some of the most easily accessible adventures for beginners and experienced fitness experts alike. Let’s get out and hike, bike and paddle Singapore together.
HIKING and/or RUNNING:
Singapore is known as the Garden City and the National Parks Board does a tremendous job of preserving green space for an easy escape from the concrete jungle. The following three adventures range from short and easy to long and challenging among some of my favorite areas to disappear for a quick run or a hike maximizing exposure to green-ness while usually trying to work in some hills for that extra burn. The most memorable experiences on these trails involve getting lost and discovering something new. It’s important when you head out in to the heat to carry enough water, food, and sunblock to ensure a safe journey. The beauty of Singapore is that no matter how deep you get in to some trails you never too far away from civilization so take a risk, get your friends and hit the trails. Check out the descriptions below and click on the link to access the maps on Strava.
PEARL’S HILL CITY PARK: EASY TO MODERATE
Location: Tajong Pagar Park Connector to Pearl’s Hill City Park Loop
Strava: – https://www.strava.com/routes/14301122
This is the most accessible route to get a great escape below shade trees in the heart of the city. Start off at the workout equipment behind Pinnacle at Duxton and head towards Chinatown on the park connector. After you cross New Bridge Road and Eu Tong Sen St. You start to make the climb to the top of Pearl’s Hill. There is no set route to the top and I recommend getting lost among the stairs and trees. As soon as you feel you have had your fix turn around and come on back the same way. This hike/run can be made more difficult by going up and down the hill as many times as you can. There is even equipment at the top of Pearl’s Hill to add a bodyweight HIIT workout halfway through the trek.
DURIAN LOOP TRAIL: MODERATE TO HARD
Location: Bhukit Timah Nature reserve to Durian Loop Trail
Distance: 5km – 20km depending on route and ending location
Strava: Short version – https://www.strava.com/routes/15829437
Strava: Long Version – https://www.strava.com/routes/15829491
My absolute favorite trail in all of Singapore is Durian Loop Trail. It may only be a short section of trail in the extensive network of Bukit Timah Trails but it packs a lot of diversity over that short distance. If you are lucky enough to be out there during durian season you will even catch the sweet aroma of the king of fruits that give this trail its namesake. Surprisingly, I have happened upon people foraging the king of fruits in the middle of the night. It can cause a bit of a fright to come up on a crew full of headlamps tracking down these fallen majestic fruit. At the end of the trail you can turn back towards the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve entrance or carry on and connect to MacRitchie. That link up is only for the crazy adventurers out there but with your sweat buddy any adventure is ready to be conquered.
SOUTHERN RIDGES: CHALLENGING to VERY HARD
Location: Marang Trail opposite Vivo City to Mount Faber to Henderson Waves Bridge to Telok Blangah Hill Park to Forest Walk to Hort Park to Kent Ridge and back.
Distance: 13km with lots of hills
This link up of hills along the southern ridges is one of the best ways to get some elevation gain in our flat little island. On top of getting in some serious climbing you are greeted with amazing views at every clearing of the trees. If you want to be even more adventurous and rugged there is an old trail underneath the Forest Walk that brings you through densely covered paths and through streams so be prepared to get your feet a little wet during rainy season. Once you reach Hort Park there is ample water stations to rehydrate and continue on to the big climb to the top of Kent Ridge Park. This is where you will feel like a hero; summiting after already trodding 6km of grueling hills the final surge to the top is met with a tranquil setting of giant shade trees and benches to relax, catch your breath, take in the view and turn around to head back.
Bike sharing companies have made it easier than ever to get out on two wheels and explore the the city. This ride is an easy way to get a workout in while touring around the entire Marina Barrage area. As always, make sure you have enough water before you head out on your adventure, get your crew of sweat buddies, and get out there to explore and enjoy the sights.
Location: Start at the Marina Promontory where you will find a wide variety of bike sharing options. All you need to do is download the app of the associated bike you find, input some details and you are ready to ride.
Distance: 12km and moderately difficult.
After picking up your bike at the promontory, head south towards Marina Bay Sands. Pedaling below the three iconic towers will definitely give you reason to stop and look up. As you continue to ride each turn will bring in to view an architectural marvel including everything from the Art Science Museum, Gardens by the Bay, the Marina Barrage and many more as you pedal around what has now become a large holding reservoir for Singapore’s water supply. As you cross the barrage you can look back at a spectacular view of the city that perfectly frames the Singapore Flyer, the skyline, Marina Bay Sands and Gardens By The Bay. This ride continues down along the eastern side of the reservoir towards the National Stadium, an open air stadium that houses a wide variety of events from international football and rugby to world-class musicians. Once you pass the stadium you are on the home stretch riding west bound down Nicholl Highway. Head towards the city skyline in order to make the complete 12km loop ride back towards Merlion Park, another view showcasing the impressive architecture and city planning of Singapore’s Central Business District and Marina. One of the greatest conveniences of bike sharing is that you can stop whenever you want, enjoy some food, take in the sights and not be encumbered by your bike. Lock it up in a designated area and carry on.
We are an island nation surrounded by calm seas with little to no surf or wind. These conditions make stand up paddle boarding the perfect activity to explore, have fun, and get fit while enjoying the endless expanse of the ocean. Paddling has quickly become one of my most enjoyable recreational pastimes because of the diversity it allows you. You can simply soak up the day on the sea relaxing on your board or put in a grueling pace paddling through choppy seas for a tremendous workout. The key to stand up paddle boarding is feeling comfortable and safe in the water. If you are not a strong swimmer make sure you wear a life vest. If you don’t know the currents, ask someone if there are specifics you should be aware of. If you don’t feel comfortable standing up you can still get a great workout paddling from the kneeling position or even laying down on your stomach. Again, get your buddy, not only for fun but safety on the water, and get out there and paddle.
SENTOSA SILOSO BEACH:
Siloso beach is the perfect place for beginners to get their sea legs. Ola Beach Club has rental options at an hourly rate as well as providing an option for a two hour class and tour. Siloso is great for beginners because of the easy beach start made more calm by the man-made jetties designed to prevent waves from washing away the beach. Slow and steady on the paddle board is key. If you get comfortable in the calm protected waters you can venture out in the sea beyond the jetty for a little added difficulty
EAST COAST PARK:
DIFFICULTY: Moderate to Hard
Paddling at East Coast Park adds more of a challenge because of the lack of protection from the open sea. There are not big surges of waves but even during a calm period it will be more turbulent than the waters at Sentosa. In addition to choppier waters there are currents you need to be aware of. Ask the rental attendant for information and stay within your limits of comfort. Check out Aloha Sea Sports for a variety of board rental options. This rental spot is also close the famous East Coast Food Centre that provides a quintessential Singaporean Hawker experience perfect for an after workout meal.
Final Words Then Off We Go!
Getting outdoors to exercise and explore with a group of people is one of the best ways to break up the routine of your busy life, make meaningful connections with like-minded people, and get fit while doing so. Your health and happiness are critically linked to the community you surround yourself with. Community is a group of people who show up to support you. Support comes in many different forms and literally just showing up is all it takes. We don’t have to know how to support each other because every situation is different but the more we continuously commit to showing up together, the better we get at figuring that out. No one was ever meant to do anything alone except foster a deep sense of self-love, self-respect, and self-discipline. Let’s work together to find people who support you in that endeavor.