Keep moving and stay fit

Updated: 2011-09-06 08:15

(China Daily)

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Many people in this country believe that falling in love will keep them young.

But the newly published 2010 report on Chinese people's physical health sent another warning: if you don't move you will get old faster.

The report called everyone's attention to the fact that the nation is prematurely aged. The physiological ages of people aged from 35 to 50 are 10 years ahead of their chronological ages, 54 percent of people aged 45 to 54 considered themselves old.

In urban areas the vast majority of people now work in sedentary occupations and work under more pressure. Meanwhile the fast change from famine to feast has also been dangerous to our health. China, a nation once considered to have one of the leanest populations, now has an obesity epidemic due to changes to the traditional diet, reduced levels of physical activity and sedentary lifestyles.

It took citizens in the United States many decades to get this fat, it seems to have taken Chinese citizens no time at all.

The number of obese people has risen from 18 million in 2005 to 100 million last year. They're prime candidates for diabetes and heart disease. Perhaps even more worrying is that the physical constitution of people aged from 25 to 29 was found to be deteriorating the fastest.

This result is substantiated by a 2009 survey of 11,000 companies in 13 countries by Regus, a US-based provider of workplace solutions. It found that nearly 86 percent of Chinese respondents reported their levels of stress had become "higher" or "much higher" in the previous two years. Those most affected by the added stress were people aged from 24 to 30.

Karoshi, or death from chronic overworking, is no longer a phenomenon reserved for the Japanese. There have been reports of employees dying on the job in China.

In stark contrast, the country also has the world's largest army of couch potatoes. It is said that more than half of Chinese citizens above the age of 16 did not manage to participate in any form of sporting activity last year.

While China's obesity rate is still less than that in the US, Britain and Australia, it has led to a worrying rise in chronic non-communicable diseases such as cancer, strokes, heart disease and diabetes.

Experts are predicting that the number of overweight and obese people in China could double in the next two decades, posing a serious threat to China's health system and putting a brake on the country's economic growth.

The government has yet to take serious action to address the problem and many people still lack the awareness to recognize obesity as a problem. The country needs a comprehensive initiative to let the whole nation move so it has healthier citizens.

(China Daily 09/06/2011 page8)