In early January 2016, my travels took me back to China to lecture at Beijing Sports University and the launch of the Exercise is Medicine on Campus initiative in China. This was an exciting event in which 50 universities from across China came together to promote exercise on campuses across the country. EIM on Campus is an important component of the Exercise is Medicine global health initiative that I chair. It is dedicated to insuring that no student graduates from a college or university without a lifetime plan for fitness. I was excited to give a talk at this meeting, along with several of my ACSM colleagues, about the important health benefits that exercise brings and why all universities need to get their students to be more active.
While the wide ranging benefits of regular exercise are well known, there has been a disturbing trend in which physical education and exercise have been de-emphasized by universities around the world. In fact, at most campuses in the United States, students are no longer able to get college credit for PE classes. This makes no sense given the fact we know how important fitness is to good health and longevity. I would argue that perhaps the single most important thing one could learn in college is how to stay active and fit throughout your life.
This is also important because we know that individuals who are active and fit make better workers. They are less likely to be absent from work and cost less in terms of healthcare costs. In addition, fit individuals live longer and for all of these reasons it is logical that those who are fit have an advantage in today’s work force. And given that Universities are tasked with preparing our leaders and workforce for tomorrow, I believe they should be keenly interested in promoting fitness to their students. The EIM on Campus event in China was tangible evidence this message is being heard and hopefully will lead to increasing levels of exercise in the future generations around the world.
Of course, while in Beijing I made sure to get in my walking every day. Though I have been there before, I never get tired of all the wonderful sights in and around this city. And most all of the top tourist attractions in Beijing are best seen on foot. During this visit, I particularly enjoyed getting to walk around the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. I also got to visit and walk on a section of the Great Wall that I had never seen before. Beijing is certainly one of the world’s great cities and an incredible place to walk.
Thanks as always for reading my blog and spreading the word on the importance of walking to good health. It is clear that our message is being heard around the world.