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VietNamNews

Teed Off (Nov. 24, 2013)

Update: November, 24/2013 - 18:03

with Robert Bicknell

Last week, I kept a few statistics on my golf game and found my average driving distance was 318.6 yards, which is actually longer than when I was much younger. While technology plays a part of this improvement, I cannot deny that my three-day per week sessions at Star Fitness played a major role. With the exception of a few aches which come with middle age, I feel physically stronger today than I did when I was 35 years ago.

When I was growing up, parents of my generation were constantly saying things like: "A sound body and a sound mind" which basically means you need a healthy body to maintain a sharp and active mind. It was good advice then and it's good advice now.

Unfortunately, I see more and more children and adults who simply don't get it. The kids are large and pudgy and the parents aren't much better.

Why?

With parental demands for children to get into the best schools, the kids are forced to study harder and for longer periods of time. I see kids where the parents have booked their kids time down to the minute with extra-curricular activities such as, music class, math tutors, English language classes and the like. It's only a very few who book their kids into classes pertaining to physical education, such as Karate, swimming or golf, and this is a huge mistake.

In the current global economy, people find themselves working harder just to keep their heads above water. Salaries remain static while commodity prices increase. This leads to more stress, poor dietary habits and more frequent drinking. None of which is good for your heart or overall health.

An American Heart Association analysis of studies on millions of children around the world finds they don't run as fast or as far as their parents did when they were young. On average, it takes children 90 seconds longer to run a mile than their counterparts did 30 years ago.

Another study led by Grant Tomkinson, an exercise physiologist at the University of South Australia, analyzed 50 studies on running fitness - a key measure of cardiovascular health and endurance - involving 25 million children ages 9 to 17 in 28 countries from 1964 to 2010 (About 20 million of the 25 million children in the studies were from Asia).

The studies measured how far children could run in 5 to 15 minutes and how quickly they ran a certain distance, ranging from half a mile to two miles. Today's kids are about 15 per cent less fit than their parents were, researchers concluded.

The decline in fitness continues to fall in China, but seems to be levelling off in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and perhaps in the last few years in North America. Japan, on the other hand, never had much falloff - fitness has remained fairly consistent there.

This doesn't bode well for our children, or for the future in general.

While I have no argument with kids studying harder, doing more homework and trying to excel academically, I also believe that they could do even better in class if they were in better physical condition. A healthy body and a healthy mind, etc…

Swimming, karate, golf, basketball and, of course, football are all excellent sports which promote physical fitness. While golf might seem to be less demanding than the others, you have to remember that you're swinging a golf club at close to 80 - 100 mph with as much precision as possible. Yoga and tai chi are also exercises which don't look strenuous, but believe me they will kick your butt. Appearances can be deceiving to those who don't know any better.

OK, I realise that some will say: "If golf is such a great exercise, why are YOU in the gym three times a week?" and the answer is simple - I want to be even better than before. Complacency sucks, whether in sport, in the classroom or in life.

So, parents, remember that you have to let kids be kids in order to have a normal childhood and that includes time for playing sports. They learn a lot about social interaction through sport, but most importantly - they stay healthy.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy… and an unhealthy one at that. — VNS

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