Help Hong Kong’s schoolchildren learn the value of regular exercise

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 September, 2017, 9:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 September, 2017, 10:49pm

If you walk around Hong Kong, you will find more and more schoolchildren are overweight these days. This is a worrying trend, presumably caused by a lack of physical activity.

Sedentary children not only face an increased risk of being overweight or obese in adulthood, but are also more prone to obesity-related health problems.

Inactive children are also at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, as well as high blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, and tend to have a more pessimistic outlook on life.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal, a contributing factor to the lack of physical activity in young students is a heavy workload.

Nowadays, teenagers end up doing homework until well past midnight, thus it is no wonder that they have no time to exercise.

So how do we resolve this problem? Perhaps we should have a “no-homework day” each week, so that children can participate in their favourite sports activities.

As far as I know, in almost all schools here in mainland China, besides the daily school assembly during term time, there is also 10 minutes of gymnastics practice (ti cao in Mandarin) daily.

Perhaps the Education Bureau of Hong Kong could incorporate this routine for primary and secondary schools in the city as well. Schools could also have a regulation that, as long as children engage in physical activities during the summer break – such as playing basketball, volleyball or soccer, and swimming, be it taking lessons, refresher courses, or just for fun – it would be counted towards the marks in physical education (PE) lessons during the following academic year.

This would definitely be a good way to help youngsters develop a healthy habit of regular exercise.

Most importantly, parents themselves must set a good example, as it is no use telling children to work out while they themselves lounge about as couch potatoes all day long.

Eunice Li Dan-yue, Shanghai