Healthy body, healthy mind

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 May, 2015, 12:38am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 May, 2015, 9:21am

The exact causes are not known but our young people are getting more and more physically unfit.

The latest study of young soccer players finds local players aged 14 to 18 are physically weaker, slower and less nimble than their British counterparts.

Their performance also deteriorates as they get older. Since soccer is the favourite sport among many local youths, the same or similar results may be assumed for other sports as well.

The Hong Kong and British teenage soccer players are of the same age in the survey, a one-year longitudinal comparison conducted by the Jockey Club and English Premier League club Manchester United.

The youngsters run slower, jump lower and show less agility than young British players. The study attributes the deficiency to insufficient training and not enough pitches in Hong Kong.

This tallies with a 2013 global study which found Asian children physically worse off on cardiovascular fitness than their Western counterparts. Aged nine to 17, youths today are on average also less fit than children in the past 40 years.

Swimming, cycling and running are good aerobic exercises; Hong Kong schoolchildren need to be encouraged to do more of them.

Local experts have warned protective parents who prize academic excellence over outdoor exercises are partly to blame.

Though Hong Kong ranks second in a global study of 15-year-olds in maths and science conducted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, over-focus on academics is short-slighted and wouldn't do in the long run.

Modern brain science has found that a well-exercised body leads to a more alert brain and enhances cognitive abilities. The neglect of the body has a direct negative impact on the development of brain powers.

Tiger-parenting is fine so long as the cubs are trained to be more like tigers rather than just bookworms. Remember: healthy body, healthy mind.