What parents believe is best for their children and what is actually good for them are not always one and the same. That is especially true for physical exercise, which research shows is necessary for maintaining good health. But give a Hong kong parent a choice of an hour of sport or play and music lessons and there is every chance that they will opt for the latter. It is one reason for low levels of fitness and worrying rates of obesity. That is inevitable if parents are overbearing with children. Building a strong portfolio to improve chances of getting into a good school has become a priority. Top marks in music, ballet and other indoor pursuits are often seen as necessities, while participation in outdoor activities such as sport generally is not. If there is time after homework and tuition, it is most often occupied by a video game or TV. The consequences are apparent in a slew of studies done here and overseas. Research into cardiovascular fitness by university of South Australia academics found that globally, children are 15 per cent slower at running than their counterparts 30 years ago, and those from Asia 30 per cent slower. Recent Baptist University surveys show 47 per cent of Hong Kong's secondary school students don't know how to swim and 20 per cent can't ride a bicycle. Although obesity levels among children are falling - latest figures from the Department of Health show 20.9 per cent of primary school pupils are obese, down from 21.4 per cent in 2010 - the level is still well above the 16.4 per cent recorded 16 years ago. Doctors suggest children should get at least an hour each day of moderately vigorous activity like swimming or jogging. To avoid neck and back pain and rounded shoulders, they should spend less time hunched over desks and electronic devices and be outdoors more often. Hong Kong parents may not see that as a worthy path to a future of money-making, but wealth is of little value without good health and well-being.