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Hi There (February 2014): Do Malaysians Exercise Enough?

There are many reports about how Malaysians avoid exercise and the various health problems related to lack of exercise. A recent survey by AIA confirms that nothing is changing, and even younger Malaysians feel they are less fit now than they were five years ago. It’s certainly a worrying trend.

Of course this is not just a problem unique to Malaysia, but one aspect of it always irritates me and that is the number of Malaysians who happily block traffic by parking illegally or irresponsibly to avoid a five-minute walk from the nearest car park. Some Malaysian friends claim it is to avoid the heat, but given that I come from a cool climate and always try and park legally, I see little validity in that argument. In addition, the problem seems just as bad in the evening when the weather is cooler.

Given the significant revenue potential from towing illegally parked cars, in addition to being a deterrent from such parking practices, we are surprised it is not done routinely. It would certainly change this behaviour as has been proven in other countries where authorities are less tolerant.

Whenever I see people walking around the area where our office is located, they are nearly always either a foreign worker who does not possess transportation or an expat happy to get a little exercise. Of course the fact that quite a few of the roads do not even have pavements does not help matters. Even when there are pavements they are, sadly, often in poor condition and it is not uncommon to see them obstructed by parked cars and motorbikes.

However I have recently discovered that some Malaysians make a point of getting outdoors and exercising. I recently started taking my kids to a park on Sunday mornings. Lake Gardens is not too far from my home and it’s an attractive park which is reasonably well maintained. However by 7.30 am there is often nowhere left to park, so if we leave home a little late I take the kids to Titiwangsa which has a much larger park.

What is amazing is the staggering number of Malaysians engaged in some sort of activity. You will always find several hundred people jogging or walking as well as dozens of couples finding a spot to play badminton while others come on roller skates or bicycles. The park has a pretty decent children’s playground ground as well as areas with adult exercise equipment which are usually all in use. There is even a section where a few hundred people can be seen doing collective routines guided by trainers on stage complete with pop music.

It’s quite an experience and worth a trip as this is certainly one of the nicer parks in KL. It also proves that many Malaysians have no problem exercising. Now if they could just persuade their fellow citizens, perhaps those who choose to park inconsiderately, about the health benefits of the five-minute walk from the car park, that would remove an ongoing source of irritation to me and certainly improve the quality of my life. OK, I agree it’s not the most compelling of reasons.

Have a great month, drive carefully, and please… park responsibly.

Source: The Expat Magazine February 2014

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