Exercising outdoors brings with it many benefits that can’t be replicated in the gym. Firstly, you burn more calories – if you’re running or cycling, wind resistance makes you work harder so you expend more energy. Then, the views and the fresh air (better than breathing in stale air at the gym) all put you in a good mood. Finish a workout outdoors and you’re likely to feel a heightened sense of enthusiasm, energy and an overall increase in vitality. And in Singapore’s climate, it’s possible to exercise outdoors all year round. Here are some activities to keep you fit and feeling good.
Gather friends or family and head to the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Labrador Nature Reserve, MacRitchie Reservoir Park or any one of Singapore’s many other trails for a group workout in lush scenery. Everybody wins! You engage different muscle groups all at once, including your core, thighs, calves and ankles, while also building cardiovascular strength and burning calories. At the end of the trail, you’ll have improved your fitness and had a fun day out with the family.
This ancient Chinese tradition is also a killer full-body workout. Paddling one of these boats requires you to use your shoulders, but your back, abdominals, chest, hips and thighs are all engaged as well. Missing practice is a no-no, so you’re less likely to skip a workout; and with so many people, movements and paddles involved you will develop a heightened sense of alertness and awareness as you move in sync with your fellow paddlers.
If you’re looking for something completely different to keep you fit, why not try rock climbing? The SAFRA Adventure Sports Centre has walls of varying heights and difficulty levels including chimney, crack and slab walls. You’ll need arm strength to pull your body up while your thighs and calves simultaneously push you, making it as good as any gym workout. You will also need to concentrate and keep your mind alert as you plot your course to the top. If you prefer the real deal, Bukit Timah Quarries offers routes for the novice as well as the experienced. Just be sure to put on your safety harness before you start your climb.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)
This workout looks deceptively simple, but get on a board and you’ll need to work muscles you never knew existed. The common misconception is that SUP requires upper-body strength. In reality, you will need to engage every fibre of your core, upper body and legs. A session on the SUP board will help you to improve your balance and overall strength while increasing endurance. Best of all, if you take a tumble, you land in the water.
Wakeboarding and Water-skiing
Two more water-based activities that will challenge your muscles and get your heart racing. Think of wakeboarding as doing squats – on water. It takes significant arm strength to pull yourself up, but your legs too are constantly working and your core is engaged in keeping you upright. Not for the fainthearted, it will take several sessions to build the strength and skill required. Approach with caution!
This article first appeared in the May edition of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe
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