Good morning everyone! Some of you may not know me, as I’m an exchange student from Hong Kong and have just been here for around a month. Today, I feel very much honored to be here to share with you all on the topic of longevity. Surprisingly, Hong Kong people have topped an annual list for that, and for three consecutive years.
Yes, I understand how shocked you all must be. Hong Kong seems quite insignificant, compared with how great this place — the States — is. What have Hong Kong people done to have such a result? The average life expectancy of women and men are 87.66 and 81.7 respectively! Well, I had quite of a shock too when I heard of the news. Hong Kong doesn’t seem to be a city where people lead particularly healthier lives, does it? When you go on the streets, it’s common to see people smoking, especially in crowded areas like Mong Kok. The serious traffic congestion issue doesn’t help either, with the cars puffing out tons of exhaust gas every day. When I first came to the States, the first thing I noticed was definitely how fresh the air is. So, the news surely was surprising to me as well, prompting me to find out the reasons of why we Hong Kong people live long. I bet you all are dying to know.
First and foremost, it’s about our lifestyle, consisting of two parts: our eating habits and exercise. Shall we first talk about Hong Kong people’s eating habits? You may not have noticed, but Hong Kong people actually really care about healthy diets. Especially in earlier years, many people opted for healthier meals over fast food. Consuming fast food is sometimes inevitable in our fast-paced city, but the many healthier choices in restaurants have also reduced the harmful impacts of eating out. Many lunchboxes in my city start containing more vegetables and less meat. Many restaurants also allow customers to choose less salty and oily food. People are encouraged to lead lives of lower carbon footprints so Hong Kong people sometimes have Green Mondays too. As you might have figured out, meals prepared that day would only contain vegetables and no meat. These eating habits allow we Hong Kong people to consume less fats and thus live healthier. On the contrary, here in the States, while the pace of living is much slower than that of Hong Kong’s. people tend to have fast food or food in high calories. To be honest, I was dumbfounded when I saw how large jumbo-sized meals are when the smallest set I had here in the States is already larger than the jumbo set I had back in Hong Kong. Yes, the burgers are certainly tasty, and you get to eat more of that when you order a jumbo size, but it also means that you eat much more fats and calories than you need. Obesity and heart problems would thus be likely. Well, it’s for sure a right move that my friends here have shared with the States government’s growing concerns over the issue.
Apart from eating habits, the exercise level of Hong Kong people has also contributed to our long lives. Well, I think we all know that doing exercise isn’t a popular trend among Hong Kong people, especially for youngsters. We have lots to do and would rather choose to play video games for relaxation than doing exercise. But Hong Kong people do one sport every day, and in huge amounts: walking. Because it wouldn’t take much time and still help save transport costs. Not many people own private cars, so after taking public transport, we usually walk for the remaining distance from the bus stop to homes or offices. When I was in Hong Kong, I used to walk for around 30 minutes and only took a 5-minute ride on the train to school. Actually, Hong Kong people walk more than we think, making us much healthier and explaining our long lives. I’m sure that you’ve all spotted the huge difference of people’s lifestyle here in the States now. Almost everyone owns a private car, and it’s way too convenient to the point that some people may choose to drive even for a really short distance. Of course, I’m not blaming anyone because I myself know how necessary it is to own a car here. Still, the level of exercising does matter for longer lives.
Hong Kong people’s lifestyle is of course one of the reasons for our longevity, and another reason is about the infrastructure. Hong Kong is a small place, and there’s no meaning denying that. Sometimes, I do envy you guys so much for having so MUCH space for everyone, as one day I still would have to move back to Hong Kong. Yet, this can actually be an edge Hong Kong has over other places. You know how we can get timely rescue and help in just 12 minutes after asking for an ambulance? Since Hong Kong is so small, there’s always a hospital or clinic nearby to provide professional medical assistance. Here in the States, people would have to rely on themselves if they’ve gotten hurt instead. Hong Kong people can certainly have a higher chance of getting saved. Thus, the utterly small size and good infrastructure help secure longer lives of Hong Kong people.
Actually, we can only do so little. It’s not like we can change the infrastructure here on our own. But we can do so much too, by changing our own lifestyles to a healthier one. Although I’m from Hong Kong, I would also need to adjust my way of living in order to stay healthy. So, let’s all work hard together! It’s not as hard as you think! Let’s live long and enjoy more of a fruitful life!
Chong Mei Sze