HPB to spur more residents to meet physical activity recommendations

by | February 7, 2023

It is increasing the availability of physical activity programmes and refining the National Steps Challenge.


Rahayu Mahzam, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Health, participating in a brisk walk, highlighting the importance of engaging in moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity and how this will be supported by the National Steps Challenge.


The Health Promotion Board (HPB) will increase the availability of its physical activity programmes and refine its National Steps Challenge, to spur more residents to meet the recommendations in the Singapore Physical Activity Guidelines (SPAG). The guidelines, launched in June 2022, provide recommendations on the duration, intensity, frequency and types of physical activity for different population segments.

Under Healthier SG, residents will have access to more physical activity programmes organised in the community, as well as self-directed programmes that enable individuals to monitor their lifestyle habits and keep active at their own convenience. As Singaporeans enrol in Healthier SG, more participants will be expected in both physical activity and self-directed programmes, and more resources will be committed to support their adoption of active lifestyles.

As one of the key agencies supporting Healthier SG, HPB will progressively scale up the overall capacity of its physical activity programmes by more than 50 percent, to serve around 47,000 participants every week from the current 31,000. In line with the SPAG’s recommendation to engage in a variety of physical activities for different health benefits, residents can access a wide range of activities, including Zumba, kickboxing, yoga, resistance band exercises, low-impact aerobics, and high-intensity interval training sessions. They are conducted islandwide in community spaces such as sports centres, parks, housing estates and senior activity centres, in collaboration with public and private sector partners.

HPB will also refine its National Steps Challenge. The Challenge leverages gamification and technology to encourage residents to keep active. It has been refreshed since April 2022, from a seasonal six-month programme to one that is always available for participation, to encourage Singaporeans to be more active throughout the year. The refreshed Challenge has been encouraging Singaporeans to embark on more active lifestyles, drawing close to 700,000 sign-ups as of January 2023.

To motivate more residents to keep active and achieve better health outcomes, the Challenge will be modified. Its programme mechanics will be streamlined to nudge participants towards achieving the SPAG-recommended physical activity duration and intensity. Particularly, adults are recommended to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, as meeting this recommendation is associated with reduced risk of premature death, incidence of coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, depression, stroke, high blood pressure, colon cancer and breast cancer. This will take into effect from February 20, 2023.

For those sedentary individuals who are starting out on physical activity, or those who are unable to undertake more intensive physical activity, the programme will continue to award Healthpoints to those who clock at least 5,000 steps a day. Concurrently, the reward milestones for clocking 7,500 and 10,000 daily cumulative steps will be removed.

Individuals are recommended to stay active and meet the guidelines through a variety of activities that improve or maintain their aerobic fitness and strengthen different muscle groups, bones and joints. These can include brisk-walking, jogging, swimming, and playing a racquet sport. Beyond recreational activities, doing effortful household chores, and taking the stairs instead of the lift can also help one to achieve the recommended physical activity duration at moderate- to vigorous-intensity.

Rahayu Mahzam, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, MOH, who announced the changes to HPB’s physical activity programmes at a brisk walking community event, said: “Although the National Steps Challenge is very important to bring people to move from their sedentary lives to keep active, it is also important to keep improving. If you do not improve, you cannot get more benefits. Of course, if you walk, you will reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes or heart diseases and such. If you do a little bit more, gradually, you will also have more health benefits.”


SIDEBOX: Moderate-intensity vs vigorous- intensity physical activity

One way to understand and measure the intensity of physical activity is by understanding how physical activity affects breathing and heart rate.

  • Based on the Singapore Physical Activity Guidelines:


Light-intensity Can talk in full sentences and sing
Moderate-intensity Can talk in phrases or short sentences but cannot sing
Vigorous-intensity Have difficulty talking


  • Determine whether the heart rate is within the target zone during physical activity:


Intensity of physical activity Target heart rate
Moderate intensity Between 64 and 75 percent of your maximum heart rate*
Vigorous intensity Between 76 and 95 percent of your maximum heart rate*

* Maximum heart rate based on age is estimated by subtracting your age from 220.


Full recommendations and safety tips for physical activity can be found in the complete set of the Singapore Physical Activity Guidelines at: www.healthhub.sg/programmes/142/moveit/moveit-singapore-physical-activity-guidelines/.

Changes to the National Steps Challenge


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