Doubts surface over call to exercise

Updated: 2013-07-10 08:07

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

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The Beijing education authority's directive that school students exercise for an hour each day during the coming summer vacation to ensure good health may fail to have much effect, despite a 20 percent obesity rate among the city's school children.

"Given how little importance parents attach to physical exercise nowadays, I'm not optimistic kids will come back to school stronger and healthier after two months' vacation," said Wang Bao, a physical education teacher in Beijing's Chaoyang district.

Most parents, especially those of primary school students, pay little attention to the physical condition of their children, he said.

"It's encouraging enough if 20 percent of them carry out the exercise as required."

More than 150,000 primary and secondary school students are required to exercise during the summer vacation, according to the education commission of Chaoyang district. Sit-ups, standing long jumps, pull-ups and jumping rope are recommended for the daily exercise sessions under parental supervision.

The Beijing Municipal Education Commission has also asked most playgrounds and athletic fields of primary and middle schools stay open for public use to encourage convenient physical exercise.

"The directive will encourage children as they lag behind in physical exercise these days," said Liu Fang, father of a 12-year-old primary school student.

However, Wang said not all parents will support of the directive. "Primary school students who want to get enrolled at middle schools are not affected at all by their physical condition, so parents usually pay little attention to it," he said.

In addition, many parents work long hours and have no time to supervise their children's exercise, Wang said.

He used to assign similar physical education to students but it was not effective, with only three of 39 students saying they did exercises as told during vacation.

The latest report on Beijing residents' health conditions showed a 20.7 percent obesity rate in Beijing schoolchildren, unchanged from last year.

The Beijing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested primary and middle school students take no less than three and a half hours of outdoor exercise every day to combat obesity.

Sun Yunxiao, deputy director of the China Youth and Children Research Center, said the initiative requires parental support and a scientific training schedule.