Enjoying Singapore: Staying Healthy in Singapore
Staying Healthy in Singapore

Most expatriates face the problem of trying to stay healthy during their first few weeks or even months in a new country. Besides the change in time zones, there are changes in climate, diet and lifestyle to deal with. Also, in all that hassle and worry that comes with relocation, most don't have the time nor the energy to exercise and eat right. Staying healthy in Singapore isn't particularly difficult - the government is pushing it in a big way, and there are plenty of gyms, jogging tracks, parks and swimming pools available to everyone.

Note: For information on hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and other health facilities, check out our section on Health Care.

Common Singaporean ailments

Obviously the heat and humidity are 2 factors you will have to get used to when you arrive here. It's summer all-year round, with thunderstorms suddenly striking out of nowhere. The tropical climate can lead to problems like heat rash, athlete's foot, colds and flu. Other common ailments include sore eyes, heat exhaustion and minor skin irritations.
The best ways to combat these problems on your own are to drink lots of water (beyond thirst) and to keep as cool and clean as possible. Avoid tight fitting clothing, rubber sneakers and keep your feet clean and dry by changing your socks regularly and using foot powder. Whenever possible, a thin T-shirt, bermudas and a pair of running shoes are all you need. It is also not uncommon for Singaporeans to take 2 showers a day.
Your diet should be light and balanced - don't over-indulge in all that tasty but oily food you will find in Singapore with alarming ease. Vitamins and supplements are optional but you may find Vitamin C supplements especially useful in this part of the world. And of course, exercise and proper rest are musts.

Joining a gym

Until a year ago, gym membership was only for the better-off in Singapore, as most gyms were in swanky hotels and cost thousands of dollars to join. Then 2 mega-gyms appeared and suddenly, going to the gym was not only affordable, but also fashionable.

Ray Wilson California Gym: No 1 Grange Road (between Mandarin Hotel and Somerset MRT) Tel: 834-2100
Open 6am to midnight; Sun: 8 to 8
The 25,000-square-foot gym boasts of 300 machines and 75 aerobics classes a week
Prices change all the time, but at present, you have to pay S$398 one-time entrance fee plus $118 per month

Planet Fitness: #03-14 Great World City, 1 Kim Seng Promenade, Tel: 235-9622
Open 7am to 10pm everyday
Slightly smaller at 20,000 sq ft, but still humongous and well-equipped
Current price is S$300 one-time entrance fee plus $78 per month

Physiquex: #03-30 Parco Bugis Junction, 230 Victoria Street, Tel: 337-7333
Open 7am to10 pm everyday
Ladies-only gym with steam baths, massages and facials. Special features include a kids play corner and computer stations with internet access.
Special Silver membership costs S$394 one-time joining fee plus $98 per month, allowing twice-weekly use of gym. Other membership plans are available.

There are of course still the expensive hotel gyms if you prefer something more exclusive, and also the NTUC chain of gyms found in some community centres. The latter charges low, low rates but don't offer the facilities or the personal training provided by the gyms mentioned above.

Exercising outdoors

Jogging is the number one exercise for Singaporeans, and if you prefer the outdoors to a treadmill, there are plenty of places where you can run. Jog along the roads if you want, but stick to the pavements and wear bright or reflective clothes at night. Much more pleasant is the East Coast Park which has a 10-km long jogging track right beside the sea.
Most cycling clubs are formed by private organisations like the American Club or British Club, as well as informal groups of people. Some of them advertise in the papers when they're organising biking excursions, so there'll be no problems for you getting in touch with them when you're here.
Most people cycle at the beach, on bicycle trails, but if that doesn't appeal to you, there are always mountain bike trails at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. If a hill is what you're after, try Mount Faber where you can cycle all the way to the top.

Parks: Look beyond the concrete jungle and you will find several parks where you can jog, have a picnic or just simply relax. If there happens to be a park near your workplace, it could even become your new lunch retreat. Near the city there's the Botanic Gardens and Fort Canning Park; further away there's Labrador Park, Kent Ridge Park in the West and Bt Timah Nature Reserve, the only area of primary rainforest left in Singapore. For more information, visit the

Eating Healthy

For the health-conscious or macro-biotically inclined, there are a few places in Singapore that caters to your diet:

  • Brown Rice Paradise (Tel: 258-4512) sells organic foods and products, conducts classes and workshops, as well as provides private consultation on diet and health.
  • Healthy Planet (Tel: 296-7889 or 834-2688) sells health foods, vitamins, supplements and gifts.
  • Planet Organic (Wheelock Place, Orchard Road; Tel: 736-2003) is a cafe-cum-supermarket that specialises in organic foods.

Yoga and Meditation

There are several types of yoga styles. Ask around and try and find the best one for yourself. Some places to try:

  • The People's Association (Tel: 6344-8222) organises yoga classes in various community centres.
  • The Substation (Tel: 337-7800) also conducts regular yoga workshops and classes.
  • Work Sanctuary (Tel: 6733-4108) by the International Yoga Teacher's Association is located in Orchard Road.

For more information on yoga and other forms of alternative medicine, check out the excellent free bi-monthly publication Be, which you can obtain from most big cafes and bookstores.

The Haze

Singapore first encountered problems with haze a few years ago due to out-of-control forest fires in nearby Indonesia. Last year, the problem was at its most serious and air quality the worst ever in Singapore. For almost 2 months from September to October, the island was shrouded in smog, which on some days, recorded almost 200 on the Pollution Standards Index, a "very unhealthy" rating. Some people took to wearing face masks, while others stayed indoors and outdoor activities were kept to the bare minimum. The implications were enormous - tourism in the region dropped and the number of visitors fell drastically.
At present, the haze is gone but there are still sporadic forest fires in Indonesia. So enjoy the clean air while you can because there seems to be nothing much we can do about it except to be prepared for the worst. To look on the bright side, some Singaporeans actually said they prefer the haze as it blocked out the strong sunlight and made Singapore a cooler place!
For official information on the haze situation, check out the Meteorological Service's website.

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