A warning from home over a weighty issue
As I brace myself for my first winter in Beijing, I can’t help but notice that my addiction to staying in is getting a lot harder to kick.
I’m a housecat at the best of times. While other people prowl the streets, being all productive and making good use of their spare time, I’m usually curled up on the couch watching “just one more episode” of whatever TV show I’m into that week, or napping after a hectic couple of hours on the internet looking at pictures of animals that look like celebrities.
In my defense, staying in is a hard drug to kick, and an easy one to rationalize. And it’s also strangely comforting, like a favorite sweater or
This Day, That Year
Steven Seagal movies, although it does come with the occasional crumb of guilt, like when you brush off a night out with friends to get York City into the Premier League on Football Manager.
Coming from Scotland, as I do, it would be easy to blame my background for my addiction to sofa-slumping. As I half-jokingly remarked to a colleague last week, the sports we Scots generally do best at are the ones that require the least amount of movement.
It’s probably little wonder that the Danish hygge craze has spread so quickly and become this year’s lifestyle trend, with everything from books and classes to food and clothing.
But judging from a report last week, my home country is also still struggling to shake off its “sick man of Europe” tag.
If anything, the situation is getting worse, with the United Kingdom’s children increasingly swapping exercise for screen time. Teenage boys in particular are doing less physical activity.
For some reason, it’s not a problem I’d expected to find in China. But it seems fitness levels among school and college students have also been heading downward over the last few years.
While youngsters here are still way more active than they are in my country, the reason for the drop is the same growing addiction to screens, whether it’s smartphones or online gaming.
So China’s plan to increase the number of sports facilities is a laudable one. Unlike successive governments in my country that have presided over the stripping away of school playing fields and public soccer pitches, here the aim is to add cycling and running tracks, and to encourage students to get out there and use them.
I salute the ambition and hope it works. For a glimpse at the alternative, let’s head back briefly and depressingly to the UK, where childhood obesity is at record levels and medical professionals warn of an impending healthcare crisis unless the trend is reversed.
It’s probably too late for this old housecat to unlearn his bad habits, and we can’t uninvent technology. And nor should we. But we should certainly be doing all we can to ensure a healthy future for our children, wherever they live.
Contact the writer at email@example.com
See more by scanning the code.