Government cash carrot could be fitness incentive in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 June, 2017, 9:01am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 June, 2017, 9:03pm

In order to encourage Hongkongers to exercise, the government must play its part too.

In Singapore, the government has since 2014 had a national movement known as ActiveSG, to encourage more Singaporeans and permanent residents to exercise. Membership is free and is for life.

All members who have signed up for the ActiveSG movement will be automatically credited with S$100 (HK$565) ActiveSG vouchers to kick-start their fitness routine.

The government issued a press release at the end of November that all members who signed up for the movement will have their vouchers extended for another year, provided at least they utilised one transaction during the original validity period. This can be used to sign up for such things as classes in community centres and swimming pools.

According to Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, Sim Ann, a million people have signed up since the launch.

According to Sport Singapore, to date the movement has attracted more than 920,000 members, with over 60 per cent having utilised their credits; the most popular activities are swimming, using the gym and the booking of sports facilities.

Seeing how encouraging and successful the programme is, perhaps the Hong Kong government could consider following Singapore’s example.

In another aspect, companies here could start some kind of incentive to encourage their staff to exercise.

In the company that my cousin is working for in Manhattan, there is a wellness programme for all its staff. There, employees are encouraged to participate in the annual fitness evaluation, which consists of blood pressure, cholesterol check, body fat, flexibility, core strength, cardio and smoking/non-smoking.

If the staff member passes the criteria of each item, they can receive a financial incentive every two weeks for the whole year. Another of her company’s wellness incentives is that if an employee can log walking or running for a total of 100 miles (160km) a month, or visit the gym at least 12 times a month for three consecutive months, they can also receive US$100 every three months. Such incentives can develop healthy habits.

Eunice Li Dan-yue, Shanghai