China is launching a nationwide campaign mandating students to run every day between October 26 through April 30. The campaign is likely meant to encourage the physical condition of young people; specifically, “grade-five and grade-six students will have to run 1 kilometer, middle school students 1.5 kilometers, and high school and university students 2 kilometers” according to the Shanghai Daily.
Some parents are concerned that the daily running would add “more pressure” on already busy students. Sounds to me like a little bit of health education could prove useful for the students and their families. We all know there are obvious health benefits to getting exercise, and running, in particular, is an ideal exercise for improving cardiovascular health and managing stress. Plus, it is critical to getting young people to start exercise programs and be health conscious at an early age. We suffer from our own problem right here in America where more than 60 million adults are obese and about a third of all children are overweight (from the Associated Press).
The required distances may seem overwhelming for people that aren’t already active. Whether it is 1km minimum or 100km, our bodies can’t just start on a rigorous daily running routine without risk of causing injury. Our bodies need time to develop the strength and endurance to sustain long distance running. You would never just show up one Saturday morning to run a marathon; it takes weeks, even months, of gradually increasing weekly running mileage to be able to perform on race day. With children, whose bones are still growing, we should be particularly careful not to overtask their bodies with too much too soon.
China’s mandatory running campaign is just one of many examples of ways to get young people involved in running and fitness. If you know of any other examples, leave us a comment.