Parents in Hong Kong can help children exercise more

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 February, 2017, 5:22pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 February, 2017, 10:42pm

The Chinese University’s report that gave Hong Kong’s young people a D grade for their overall physical activity levels (“Hong Kong’s youngsters not getting enough exercise, study shows”, February 20) is hardly surprising.

Each week, they only have two physical education lessons lasting around 80 minutes at school. A lot of students simply pretend to be sick or do not bring their PE kit deliberately to avoid exercising. The reason they hate these lessons has very little to do with the types of sports they are asked to do. They simply don’t want to end up being sweaty after PE lessons, as they may risk being subjected to ridicule from peers.

Kids are also so busy with their studies that it is hard to find the time to exercise after school. Extra lessons, exam drills and endless homework eat up their time. And parents think it is far more important for their children to stay academically competitive instead of physically active, as exam grades are worth more than sports medals when it comes to university admission.

Of course, the prevalence of smartphones and internet connections results in students leading sedentary lifestyles. When they can derive instant excitement and entertainment from a few clicks on a phone screen, why would they go through the drudgery of running and jumping ?

There are three ways to promote an active lifestyle among teenagers.

First, parents should try their best to do sports with their kids. Hiking at weekends is a great way to start. Taking a leisurely hike while enjoying the countryside, parents can spend quality time with their children, which helps improve family relationships.

Second, inviting sporting celebrities to school can help promote sports. Athletes can sign autographs for students and share their sports knowledge with them.

Third, organising more sports events in the community is essential. In addition to traditional events like marathons and other long-distance runs, I would like to see a lot of fun sports days, during which parents and children can cooperate with one another in competitions.

With the concerted efforts of family, school and community, pupils can learn to appreciate the value of an active lifestyle.

Jason Tang, Tin Shui Wai