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Young people lead less active lives

Update: September, 08/2018 - 09:00
Children now often spend most of their free time online, engaging each other through social networks. A lot of children in cities are also physically inactive. — Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Many young people and white-collar workers in major cities, including Hà Nội, HCM City and Cần Thơ, are physically inactive.

Walk through Hà Nội and you will see young people lounging at coffee and beer vendors while their elders exercise in parks and fitness centres.

A 28-year-old man who works for a petrol station in Cần Thơ in the Mekong Delta told Tuổi trẻ (Youth) newspaper he often goes to a local sidewalk beer shop with his friends after working hours.

Nguyễn Ngọc Hà, 27, a bank employee in Hà Nội’s Hoàn Kiếm District, said her working hours fill most of her time. She often begins at eight in the morning and does not leave work until six in the evening.

“I just want to sleep in on the weekend or go to a coffee shop or the cinema,” she said.

When asked about why she did not go join a fitness club for the weekends, she said she might start going later in life but did not yet feel the need.

She would consider going to a yoga and fitness club if she had enough time, she added.

A lot of children in cities are also inactive.

Statistics from the National Institute of Nutrition show the rate of overweight children has risen to over 50 per cent in HCM City and over 41 per cent in Hà Nội, up from just 12 per cent in both cities in 1996.

Đỗ Thị Ngọc Diệp, former director of HCM City’s Nutrition Centre, said unhealthy food choices should also take some blame.

Children who attend schools on grounds too small for a playground face a higher risk of obesity than their peers in larger schools, she said.

Former deputy director of the National Institute of Nutrition Lê Bạch Mai said children often spend most of their free time online, engaging each other through social networks. This has exacerbated the situation.

Chronic disease

Phan Nam Hùng, deputy head of the Cardiology Department at Bình Định Province General Hospital, said “inactivity will lead to a lot of preventable disease.”

Widening waistlines are common among white-collar workers due to their sedentary lifestyle. Hùng noted excessive belly fat is linked with a higher risk of metabolism disorders, blood glucose disorders, heart-related diseases and hypertension.

The rate of young people above 18 years old who suffer from hypertension raised from 11.2 per cent in 1981 to nearly 40 per cent today, he said.

Thái Hồng Quang, president of the Việt Nam Association of Diabetes and Endocrinology, said the diabetes rate among young people over the age of 15 has also risen. While only 1.1 per cent of young people in Hà Nội had diabetes in 1991, the national rate is now up to 5.5 per cent.

This too can be blamed in part on inactive lifestyles.

According to Quang, a 2016 survey said a third of the Vietnamese population does not exercise enough to meet the WHO (World Health Organisation) recommendation of 30 active minutes at least five days a week.

1.4b people inactive

All around the world, a large number of people lead inactive lives.

New data published in The Lancet Global Health Journal show more than one in four adults globally (28 per cent or 1.4 billion people) are inactive. In some countries, up to one in three adults are active.

The paper, authored by four WHO experts, updates 2008 estimates of global activity levels, concluding that the overall rate of inactivity among adults is largely unchanged since 2001.

Women were less active than men, with an over eight per cent difference globally. High income countries are more inactive (37 per cent) compared with middle income (26 per cent) and low income countries (16 per cent).

The report shows the need for all countries to take proactive steps to support daily physical activity for people of all ages and abilities. — VNS

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