Stu­dents fail army fit­ness stan­dards

Ex­cess weight, short­sight­ed­ness are cited as ma­jor prob­lems

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By ZHENG XIN zhengxin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Bei­jing’s army re­cruit­ment ef­forts have been in­creas­ingly ham­pered in re­cent years by a de­cline in the phys­i­cal fit­ness of can­di­dates, with many be­ing ruled un­suit­able due to com­mon com­plaints such as be­ing over­weight or short­sighted.

Ac­cord­ing to Bei­jing’s army re­cruit­ment of­fice, around 60 per­cent of col­lege stu­dents who ap­ply for mil­i­tary ser­vice fail the phys­i­cal fit­ness exam, pos­ing a se­ri­ous prob­lem for the re­cruit­ment of col­lege grad­u­ates into the army.

Most grad­u­ates are over­weight or lack phys­i­cal strength due to their seden­tary life­styles, with many also suf­fer­ing from poor eye­sight, ac­cord­ing to the re­cruit­ment of­fice.

More than 23 per­cent of the ap­pli­cants failed to pass the eye­sight exam, while 19 per­cent were ei­ther obese or un­der­weight.

The army’s re­cruit­ment sea­son for the cap­i­tal runs from June to Septem­ber, and many stu­dents see the mil­i­tary as a suit­able em­ploy­ment op­tion upon leav­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion.

“I would def­i­nitely give it a try if I’m fit enough, be­cause many boys dream of be­com­ing a sol­dier. But it’s too un­re­al­is­tic for me con­sid­er­ing my fat belly,” said Zhao Chaokun, a col­lege stu­dent in Bei­jing.

The of­fice says the is­sue of de­clin­ing fit­ness af­fect­ing the re­cruit­ment fig­ures is not new. Last year’s fig­ures were also dis­ap­point­ing, with poor eye­sight, obe­sity, urine ab­nor­mal­i­ties and os­teoarthri­tis among the most prom­i­nent is­sues.

The is­sue first reached the at­ten­tion of mil­i­tary re­cruiters some years ago, and steps were taken to ad­just to new re­al­i­ties. The cap­i­tal has twice low­ered stan­dards for phys­i­cal fit­ness for those ap­ply­ing for mil­i­tary ser­vice, first in 2008 and again 2011.

Xing Wenhua, a pro­fes­sor at Bei­jing Sport Univer­sity who has been re­search­ing the phys­i­cal health of young peo­ple since 1985, said the de­clin­ing phys­i­cal con­di­tion of the younger gen­er­a­tion has not only af­fected their daily life, but also ham­pered the de­vel­op­ment of China’s armed forces.

“The phys­i­cal con­di­tion of the Chi­nese stu­dents has been de­clin­ing ever since 1995, both in strength and stamina,” he said.

“The bet­ter liv­ing stan­dards and an overem­pha­sis on aca­demic ex­cel­lence has re­sulted in too many weak kids in the coun­try,” he said.

Xing’s point is echoed by Liu Bo, head of the sports depart­ment at Ts­inghua Univer­sity.

“The phys­i­cal con­di­tion of col­lege stu­dents has been de­te­ri­o­rat­ing for a long time,” Liu said.

“It’s not pos­si­ble to im­prove the phys­i­cal con­di­tion of the stu­dents rapidly. We have ig­nored the im­por­tance of ex­er­cise since child­hood be­cause of the in­creas­ing pres­sure to gain en­try to ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions,” he said.

In 2010 the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Sport re­searched health and fit­ness lev­els in 995 ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions from 31 prov­inces and re­gions. The re­search found that heart and lung func­tion in un­der­grad­u­ates had fallen by 10 per­cent since 1985.

Obe­sity and my­opia con­tinue to in­crease for el­e­men­tary and mid­dle-school stu­dents due to the heavy aca­demic work­load and the overuse of com­put­ers, it said.

The cap­i­tal’s army re­cruit­ment of­fice said that in or­der to re­cruit more stu­dents for mil­i­tary ser­vice, an­other round of re­cruit­ment has been planned for Septem­ber, which means the stu­dents will be given an­other chance to im­prove their phys­i­cal con­di­tion for a sec­ond at­tempt.

WANG JING / CHINA DAILY

Col­lege stu­dents in­tend­ing to join the army take eye­sight tests at a Bei­jing hos­pi­tal on Satur­day. A Bei­jing Sport Univer­sity pro­fes­sor says stu­dents’ phys­i­cal con­di­tion “has been de­clin­ing since 1995”.

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