Thursday, March 18, 2010


Last night I saw a bizarre site in Hanoi -- a jogger.

There are people who jog in parks but very few people who run on the streets. It doesn't take a genius to know that running on streets in Vietnam will most likely end up doing a lot worse things for your health than the benefits you could gain from jogging.

One thing that I've noticed for two years now is that Vietnamese people, in general, have horrible cardiovascular. The guys I play frisbee with are all in great shape (six packs, bulging biceps, etc.) but they can't run for more than a few minutes without being winded.

I've been reading a lot about Michelle Obama's child obesity campaign. People in Vietnam are far from obese but I think Vietnam needs to have a similar campaign to get people moving in order to improve their cardio. It's not hard to see why people don't have good stamina here. Nobody walks anywhere. People often ride their motorbikes for one minute rather than walk for ten.

I think there are a lot of cultural things that go into this:
1. The sidewalks are for eating and parking bikes, not for walking.
2. Vietnamese people often like to stay out of the sun to keep their skin from darkening.
3. There is a lack of open space in the cities. Even the soccer fields are about a quarter of the size of the fields we play on in America which means a lot less running.
4. The pollution is horrible. You don't want to be sucking wind while simultaneously breathing in exhaust fumes.

Recently I was watching the Sydney marathon on the television at the gym and thought, "A marathon in Hanoi would be amazing." I think someone should really push for this because Hanoi could be a great city for a marathon. Plus, it could get average people thinking about running and improving their cardio.