Thoughts on Children and Exercise in China

I didn’t give this topic much thoughts until I started exercise regularly myself. Now I exercised at least 4 times a week and no less than 40 minutes each time. I make sure I do at least 40 mins of aerobic exercise every time and at least 2 strength training per week. Since June, I’ve lost almost 20 lbs, coming down to 103 lbs, fittest ever in my life. Growing up in China, exercise was always pushed aside to make room for study, study and study.

In high school, we only have 45 minutes Physical Education class PER WEEK! Sometimes teachers will organize group exercise such as badminton, or some track racing. However, most of the time, there was no teacher present and you’re free to do whatever you’d like. The majority of the students, including myself, opted not to exercise at all. Some use this 45 mins to catch up with more homework. Others play some card games to relax. Few will actually go out and play. I only recall a couple of guys play soccer or basketball.

Back then, that didn’t bother me. Everyone was under so much pressure to get admission to college. Exercise just wasn’t our concern. Now looking back though, I realize how teenage years might have been the most important time to get into an active lifestyle. A while ago, I stumbled upon CDC’s recommendations of minimum exercise for adults and kids:

Adults need:

  • 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity every week PLUS muscle training activity for 2 or more days per week that works all major muscle groups

Or

  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week plus the same amount of strength training

Or

  • An equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic exercise plus the strength training

I wonder how many adults in China (and in the States) will meet this requirement. Before I change my lifestyle, I couldn’t say I met the requirement. Even now, I put more efforts into my aerobic exercise rather than strength training.

So this is for adults, what about kids? CDC also published guidelines for that. Let’s take a look:

Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day.” 

This sounds like a lot. But CDC elaborates on why this is needed:

They suggest that the 60 minutes should incorporate all these 3 kinds of activities: aerobic activity, strength training, and bone strengthening. Similar to adults, aerobic activity should make up most of the 60 mins. Examples of aerobic activity includes brisk walk, running, riding bikes, etc. Secondly, strength training is an indispensable part. Kids don’t need structured strength training programs like weight lifting. For them, push-ups and gymnastics are good options. The last one is bone strengthening activity such as jumping ropes and running. To make it more fun? Dancing and playing basketball also help strengthening the bones!

I wonder how many Chinese kids are meeting this recommendations. High school need to revise their agenda to give more time to physical education. This requires a collected efforts and public education among parents, teachers and children alike. Driving the awareness of exercise, how children can benefit from regular exercise physically and mentally. I’m not sure how the new generation is in tune with fitness related information. Are they interested? In the next few weeks, I plan to research on sports/fitness related social media accounts on China’s web sphere. Hopefully it will show that the new generation shows more interest in exercise than we used to.

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