Skipping aunty and fat children
JULY 1 — Children in Hong Kong are in trouble. Fat trouble. So dire is the situation that skipping classes are on the drawing board to coax the younger set to break into a sweat.
It seems that kids here have a general distaste for exercise. Government statistics (2009) showed that only 34 per cent of children aged seven to 12 had at least 60 minutes of vigorous exercise five days over a three-month period.
Those figures are entirely believable. On a regular school day, a child who attends full-day school is out of the home by 7.30am and returns only at 4pm. Then there are tutorial schools to attend, music lessons and so on.
To address the problem, a skipping programme was introduced late last year in 20 schools in Kowloon and the New Territories to study the effect of rope skipping on children.
Each school was given 100 skipping ropes to be used during physical education classes as well as during free time to encourage children to try out the sport.
A study to be led by Professor Amy Ha of the Chinese University’s department of sports science and physical education aims to examine how social support, school policies and the physical environment influence a child’s decision to exercise.
Ha is the founder of the Hong Kong Rope Skipping Association. The study is funded by a $230,000 grant by soft drink maker Coca Cola.
Rope skipping itself is a nostalgic game. It brings back memories of rubber bands, which my mum would buy by the bags so my sisters and I could fashion a rope that did double duty as a high jump bar and skip rope.
Come to think of it, I could not jump very high even at age nine. Skipping left me plenty breathless even then.
Not athletically inclined, I am the proud owner of ONE sports day trophy that I picked up when I was 10. It was for... “lumba kasut tempurung.” I wonder what my dad must have thought at the time.
My dad is a natural sportsman. He played hockey at the 1964 Olympics. I have trouble with any game that requires hand-eye coordination but boy, could I clomp away on coconut shells.
There is merit in this skipping business. Like today, as I type this, when the Typhoon 8 signal is hoisted (Tropical Depression Doksuri is paying a visit). The strong winds and heavy rain outside could mean that skipping is the way to go.
In an interview with the South China Morning Post (June 26), Ha said skipping is ideal for space and time-crunched Hong Kong. When the air quality worsens, as it often does, one can skip indoors.
So I whipped out my skipping rope and realised that it is quite impossible to perform this act in the corridor in my apartment that is 2.5 feet wide. Turns out the widest open space in my apartment is 3.5 feet but I might rip out the overhanging lamp. Welcome to my Hong Kong.
Also, along with my recent discovery that I am of advanced maternal age (according to the Hospital Authority, a woman aged 35 and above falls into this category), I seem to also have developed achy knees and may require bifocals in the very near future to trim my baby’s fingernails.
Another point to consider is that the neighbours below us may not be keen on the thump-thumping threatening to make their ceiling cave in. I figure I won’t be venturing beyond 10 thumps anyway.
Speaking of neighbours, skipping when you have neighbours downstairs may not be a good idea. Nor is chair dragging or cane-walking. A friend has received two letters from her neighbour down below requesting that she keep her 11-month old from dropping his ball onto the floor when he wakes at 5.30am. “Please keep noise down until 8a.m.” was the demand.
The article also mentioned that skipping is a “non-intimidating activity.”
First, let me say that I’ve watched my reasonably hot mother-of-two neighbour rope skip in her denim shorts and I am incredibly intimidated. Because despite possessing enviable curves, it was still hard work pulling off the effortless look.
Ha encourages rope skipping to improve on muscular strength and endurance. Sounds like something I can do with. Baby wearing (carrying my baby in a baby carrier slung over my shoulders) is tough on the back and shoulders.
So this rope skipping business. I might give it a go with my baby in the stroller watching me. To heck with looking proper. Might rope in my four-year-old too. At least we’d get a good laugh out of Mummy tripping over.
Children in Hong Kong look out. There is a fat aunty coming near you with a skipping rope.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.