Research: 95% Women Fall Short of WHO Standards for Physical Activity
Hong Kong Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) released a survey on women's exercise habits and health awareness ahead of International Women's Day on March 8th. The survey found that 95% of women do not meet the World Health Organization's recommended physical activity levels. Additionally, the survey found that women have insufficient health concern, with few undergoing regular gynecological check-ups, especially among grassroots women.
The survey, conducted between December 2022 and February 2023, interviewed 1,128 women aged 25 to 59. Results showed that 95% of respondents did not meet the WHO's recommended physical activity levels, compared to only 18% in a 2019 Report of Population Health Survey. Of those surveyed, 68% reported not engaging in any intense aerobic exercise. The survey also found that even the government's widely promoted "10,000 Steps a Day", it is achieved by less than 40% of respondents. The main reasons for not exercising were due to work and family responsibilities.
The survey also found that 44% of women interviewed reported suffering from illnesses during the survey period, with some experiencing chronic conditions. The most common illnesses reported were obesity, menstrual irregularities, high cholesterol.
However, women do not pay enough attention to their own health and those who have different types of check-ups once a year are not many. Taking physical check-ups, breast examinations, and cervical examinations as an example, over 80% of people never do them or only do them once every two years, and more than half of grassroots women indicate that they are deterred by the high cost of medical examinations.
The Head of the Department (YWCA Movement), Fiona YUEN Sau Ying said that women often have a strong sense of responsibility to "take care of their family first" in response to their family and caregiver roles, and unconsciously neglect themselves. Nearly 70% have to take care of their children or family members and have no time to exercise. She suggested that exercise can be incorporated into family activities, such as arranging for friends and family to exercise together, or participating in online fitness classes if they need to take care of their families at home for a long time, to strengthen their health management and exercise awareness from a "preventive" perspective and reduce the risk of chronic illness. She also suggested that the government provide more incentives to family-friendly employers to promote women's healthy lifestyles and work-life balance, such as allowing flexible working hours to allow women to have timee for exercise.
The survey also pointed out that "lack of companionship" will reduce women's motivation to exercise, and 84% of women like to exercise with friends and family. She suggested that the industry organize activities in small groups or with friends to enhance their motivation and continuity in exercising, such as the women's running team organized by the association, which meets the social needs of women.
In addition, YWCA will soon launch a female health-based service in Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai to provide personal health management guidance for middle-aged people in New Territories West, including screening for health risks to prevent heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Shirley has been working in accounting industry for a long time and also needs to take care of family members with chronic illnesses. Therefore, she almost never exercises, and her weight gradually increases, and she also has severe pain, which requires medication to relax her muscles and relieve headaches. At the doctor's suggestion, she started exercising to improve her pain problem in 2019 and joined the women's running team organized by the YWCA, running for three hours a week. Her physical health has significantly improved. "Running can completely relieve pressure, and having running partners motivates me to run more.", Shirley said.
On March 8th, YWCA will hold the "ChariTea" program for the 14th consecutive year, distributing red date tea bags to remind women to take care of themselves and exercise more. Other distribution points include designated stores of Watsons, 24/7 FITNESS, CHOI FUNG, Samuel Ashley, Joint Publishing HK, Chung Hwa Book Co., and The Commercial Press, as well as YWCA service units. For more information, please visit the website https://gift.ywca.org.hk.