Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Keep fit with Khairy-initiated #FitMalaysia

There’s a new wave sweeping over the local social media scene and it’s called #fitmalaysia.
The initiative, introduced by Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin recently, encourages Malaysians to post photos of them working out, on various social media platforms channelled towards the purpose.

According to Khairy, it’s a movement aimed at turning Malaysia into a sporting nation and encouraging Malaysians to live fit and healthy lives, forever.

About time, as we are officially the “heaviest” nation in Southeast Asia – a dubious honour we can live without.

We are even ahead of the populous China, with 49 per cent of women and 44 per cent of men here classified as obese. Recent reports state that two out of five Malaysian adults are overweight.
That is not all. We also have an issue with obesity among children with close to 500,000 young ones aged below 18 found to be overweight, as of 2013.

This may not come as a surprise as we are a nation which loves our food fast, fried and oily.
How many of us can resist a steaming plate of Char Kuey Teow, a mee goreng ayam, a roti canai, or a nasi lemak, any time of the day?

Couple that with a cup of teh tarik or a can of soft drink, and you have the ideal Malaysian meal.
Take Kuala Lumpur for example. You can walk into any 24-hour “mamak” restaurant, say at 2am, and find people feasting on a plate of Nasi Kandar with generous helpings of fried food to go with it.
Such unhealthy eating habits and the almost non-existent awareness of the importance of working out are among factors that had made us the fat country that we are today.

It is a given that being obese alone does not inflict all the damage on a human body. It brings with it illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure, which in turn lead to heart issues and other problems that can turn fatal if not attended to properly.

Perhaps the #fitmalaysia initiative is a step in the right direction, at the right time.

In its Facebook page, #fitmalaysia proclaims “what do you get out of it? A sense of satisfaction that you’re part of the social wave, see how other Malaysians are working out by going through #fitmalaysia hashtags in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and a self-pat on the back”.

Judging by Khairy’s twitter account, the reception to #fitmalaysia is picking up.

He had recently tweeted “#fitmalaysia is about small but real steps. One less ciggie (cigarette), one less the tarik, half portion of rice, take stairs. Start somewhere to succeed.”
Even local celebrities have jumped on the fitness bandwagon.

TV personality Daphne Iking tweeted “Ok shan’t complain about pigging out. Let’s work off those calories!”

Comedian Harith Iskandar said “I b doing my usual my usual 6km run on Tuesday 6pm Damansara Perdana area.”

Coffee joint Quartet in Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) also recently joined in the cause by offering free coffee for anyone who can do 20 push-ups.

National badminton superstar Datuk Lee Chong Wei had also endorsed the initiative, tweeting “Don’t settle for less, give it your 200% and you could be no 1.”

Sounds promising thus far, but will it bear fruit in the long run?
Let’s hope that people don’t snap photos of themselves working out just for the sake of getting their faces in the #fitmalaysia social media channels, and then continue to pig out on heart attack inducing oily burgers.

Perhaps Khairy can consider re-introducing the now defunct Rakan Muda initative, started in the 90s, and devise programmes which are physical in nature to attract participation from people of all shapes, sizes and age groups.

While he’s at it, he could also rope in his broad-waist cabinet colleagues to also work out and lead healthy lifestyles so they can lead by example.