• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 1:46am
Trail Tales
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 June, 2013, 10:50pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 June, 2013, 11:06pm

A case for good weather warnings


SCMP health editor Jeanette Wang discovered the joy of trail running in 2011, when she moved from ultra-urbanised Singapore to the country park haven of Hong Kong. She's since neglected road running and triathlons in favour of the trails, and participates regularly in local races. Why? Because, as, John Muir said: “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity..."

The Hong Kong Observatory sure has a lot of weather warnings: for typhoons, rainstorms, thunderstorms, flooding, landslips, monsoons, frost, fire, cold weather, very hot weather, what have you. Most recently we had that Black Rain day on May 22 - the first since 2010 - when school was called off and the stock market opened only in the afternoon when the signal was lowered.

I think a good weather warning should be in force too. Seriously. Instead of calling off work or school during bad weather – black rain, T8, T9, T10 – I feel it makes more sense to do so on a beautiful day to encourage people to be active. I mean, this should be done selectively, on only really, really stellar days.

"Inclement weather", after all, was the top excuse reason that Hong Kong children cited as barriers to physical activity, according to a survey by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department published in November last year. ("Too much homework" and "being tired" were the other two top reasons.)

About 80 per cent of the children polled reported that they had sufficient or very sufficient physical activity. However their self-evaluation was far from reality: only 9.5 per cent of boys and 7 per cent of girls met the recommended amount of physical activity. (That is, at least 60 minutes moderate-or-above intensity physical activity every day.)

The numbers don't lie. Kids - and adults - in Hong Kong need to get off their bottoms and do more exercise. The proposed good weather warning and perhaps early release from work or school to exercise in good weather would encourage more physical activity.

I have to admit that I sometimes leave work a little earlier on amazing days to run into the sunset (if my bosses are reading this, don't worry, I still get my work done eventually). It boosts, rather than lowers, my productivity, because the time spent under the sun and among nature really invigorates my mind. After the run, I find I work better.

When I was living in Singapore, I never gave much thought about the weather. Thirty-one degrees, 95 per cent humidity, thunderstorms in the late morning to early afternoon – this was a forecast that could describe most days. I took for granted sunshine and blue skies. There was no meaning in winter, spring, summer or fall.

But since moving to Hong Kong about 30 months ago, I have developed a keen appreciation for the weather. I don’t complain about the rain, but I am extra thankful for clear blue sky sunny days. 

Today was one such day.


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