Univer­sity in­stalls sys­tem to make sure stu­dents run

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By LIWENFANG in Guangzhou liwenfang@chi­nadaily.com.cn Huang Mengt­ing con­trib­uted to this story.

A univer­sity in Guang­dong prov­ince re­quires first and sec­ondyear stu­dents to run twice a week, and it re­cently in­stalled elec­tronic de­vices to check.

Stu­dents at Dong­guan Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy must scan a card at a spe­cial post on one side of a run­ning track, then in­put a per­sonal stu­dent ID num­ber and take a mug shot to sign in. They must scan the card again at a post on the op­po­site side of the loop to record their time.

The surveil­lance sys­tem, in­stalled for trial at the univer­sity’s City Col­lege, is de­signed to en­force run­ning quo­tas — 1 km for males and 800 me­ters for fe­males twice a week.

The stu­dents are also re­quired to run at least 24 times be­fore the win­ter va­ca­tion, mean­ing they need to run reg­u­larly, in­stead of meet­ing the dis­tance quota with a hand­ful of longer runs.

“This sys­tem doesn’t re­quire the stu­dents to run very fast or too fre­quently. If a stu­dent doesn’t run reg­u­larly but com­pletes all the mileage in one go, the score will be in­valid,” said Xing Honglin, di­rec­tor for phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion at the univer­sity. Walk­ing in­stead of run­ning will also in­val­i­date the ex­er­cise.

The rule is meant to en­cour­age stu­dents to love sports, build up their bod­ies and im­prove phys­i­cal well­ness, he said.

In re­cent years, his depart­ment has ob­served a lack of fit­ness among younger stu­dents. Some get feel pain when they start run­ning and some breathe heav­ily af­ter min­i­mal sports par­tic­i­pa­tion.

Run­ning is in­cluded in reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion ses­sions, but some stu­dents evade the full re­quire­ment, Xing said.

“Ac­cord­ingto the na­tional PE test­ing stan­dard, male and fe­male stu­dents are tested for 1-kilo­me­ter and 800-me­ter run­ning. Con­sid­er­ing the need to strengthen their car­diopul­monary func­tions, we re­quested the sys­tem last year,” he said.

To en­cour­age run­ning, the depart­ment is con­sid­er­ing an­nounc­ing the top run­ners ev­ery month and hand­ing out awards.

“We hope that stu­dents build the healthy habit of ex­er­cis­ing ev­ery day,” Xing said. “Run­ning ben­e­fits them a lot af­ter a whole day of classes. Many peo­ple want to lose weight. Ac­tu­ally run­ning is the best way.”

Li Jingzhuo, a stu­dent study­ing in­vest­ment and wealth man­age­ment at the univer­sity, said: “I like run­ning, any­way. This mighty run­ning de­vice does not af­fect me. This pro­gram is fun, though.”

Guo Jun­jie, who ma­jors in mar­ket­ing, said: “One kilo­me­ter twice a week is not a big deal. But I am ex­hausted af­ter ball games,” he said, re­fer­ring to bas­ket­ball and soc­cer. “Not much en­ergy left for run­ning.”

The av­er­age fit­ness level of pri­mary and se­condary school stu­dents in China had im­proved slightly af­ter years of de­cline, but that of col­lege stu­dents con­tin­ues to worsen, ac­cord­ing to the na­tional An­nual Re­port on Devel­op­ment of Youth Sports.

The re­port was jointly re­leased by the Youth Devel­op­ment Depart­ment of the Gen­eral Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Sport of China and Bei­jing Sport Univer­sity in August last year.

With­out manda­tory PE classes, as re­quired in pri­mary and se­condary schools, Chi­nese col­lege stu­dents take part in sports much less than their peers world­wide, partly be­cause of un­healthy life­styles and the lack of an ath­letic cul­ture at uni­ver­si­ties, ac­cord­ing to Gao Feng, vice-prin­ci­pal of Bei­jing Sport Univer­sity.

But the track­ing sys­tem has its crit­ics. Bi Yaxu, a teacher at Guangzhou Sport Univer­sity, de­scribed the de­vice as con­strain­ing and un­nec­es­sary, al­though he ac­knowl­edged that en­cour­ag­ing stu­dents to run is a good idea.

“Stu­dents should be taught the fun of run­ning. Some stu­dents don’t like it. If they are forced to run, they may rebel against it,” he said.

We hope that stu­dents build the healthy habit of ex­er­cis­ing ev­ery day. Run­ning ben­e­fits them a lot.” Xing Honglin, di­rec­tor of phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion at Dong­guan Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy

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