The story appears on

Page A5

June 15, 2020

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Opinion

Making a strong case for communal approach to health

ONE significant impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on our lifestyles is the heightened awareness of the importance of staying healthy.

It is now clear that our overall health determines our immune system, which in turn decides to what degree we are prone to sickness.

It is also clear that many residents have emerged from the epic lockdown with considerable gains in their body weight. Xinmin Evening News reported recently that some primary school students could no longer fit into their uniforms when classes started again.

Yet another reason for staying healthy is that becoming ill can be really complicated at this particular time.

There is now general consensus that regular and frequent physical exercise is an important means to develop and maintain health and prevent obesity, though there is considerable diversity as to the means of achieving this.

Different people seem to have different solutions, ranging from moderate activity like brisk walking, to more vigorous exercise like jogging or running, to high-intensity training.

This could be practiced alone at home, in the neighborhood, or with providers like a gym or fitness club.

The health issue can also be addressed in a quintessentially Chinese way, through the line dances in their myriad forms.

The city has recently kicked off the Shanghai Night Life Festival, with the intention of encouraging the development of night-time consumption and entertainment. But the urban vibrancy at night is not wholly defined by consumption.

It is easy to see that line dancing is staging a comeback. First-time witnesses to a line dance or exercise may find it slightly comical, but the participants are dead serious, as they are undoubtedly informed by a sense of common purpose.

It is more than about exercise — there is also a communal aspect to it.

If you happen to hear what they are talking about with each other during the break, the buzz of sociability, the desire to catch up with each other, the interest in each other’s personal life, the undoubted mutual care for each other, are what makes the exercise invaluable in a metropolis.

Medical researchers have concluded that prolonged isolation makes us prone to sickness, and the cure for this is a liberal dose of shared communal activity.

As a matter of fact, these shared activities could translate into savings to our health care.

If you happen to go past Ruijin Hospital before 7am, you would be stunned by the long line of potential patients, and wonder if the long wait could be more productively used in a spirited line dance.

I think this communal aspect is also evident in the high-tech health solutions that have been much in vogue recently, in the so-called cloud health, or fitness and training enabled or mediated by apps.

During the lockdowns, with the shuttering of fitness centers, some businesses began to resort to the Internet to reach their clients. And it caught on.

Considering what staying fit is essentially about, I was baffled when I first heard about these Internet or app-enabled solutions.

But an acquaintance of mine explained that in view of the highly excited trainers on screen, the trainee could be easily energized to a “very ecstatic” and “highly infectious” state.

“There is that kind of atmosphere in Douyin or Kuaishou, and in the accompaniment of highly rhythmical music, that makes it easier for people to carry on with their efforts,” she said.

The trainees’ readiness to share their feats on social media, and the emulation it might encourage, is another factor to consider.

After the lockdowns, with wellness and fitness facilities resuming their business, there is speculation that brick-and-mortar business might continue to provide online options, riding on the development in AI and big data. But I think we probably need to wait and see.

According to Zhang Yehan from Shanghai University of Sport, while the online solution has proved its worth in helping some wellness businesses retain their clientele in times of COVID-19, it remains to be seen if they can generate significant revenues.

Zhang added that online training does not mean online reliance. She explained that fitness and training is high on participation, sociability and interactivity, all traits that do not naturally lend to the online version.

Given these considerations, whether online training will continue its momentum in the post-COVID-19 era will hinge more on the nature of the training in question and the preference of individual clients.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend