The program, ‘Walk 10,000 Steps – Change Lives,’ is initiated by Tuoi Tre
(Youth) newspaper with support from Vinamilk, Vietnam’s largest dairy producer.
The movement is inspired by nutritionist Do Thi Ngoc Diep, director of the Ho Chi Minh Nutrition Center, who at a meeting with city officials last year advised that residents should try to walk at least 10,000 steps a day to improve health and fight diseases related to lack of exercise.
Walking 10,000 steps a day helps improve health and prevent chronic non-communicable diseases and overweight, Diep told Tuoi Tre, citing recommendations by the World Health Organization (WHO).
From as early as 5:30 am on Sunday, city residents had converged on Tan Trao Street in Tan Phu Ward, District 7 to take part in the main event.
By 6:00 am, thousands of students from universities and colleges in the city had already lined up neatly behind the starting line, ready for the long walk.
Thanh Van, a student from Ton Duc Thang University, said she had woken up at 4:30 am to travel nearly 20 kilometers from her home in Thu Duc District for the event.
After a thorough warm-up led by coaches from the district’s sporting center, the crowd of over 5,000 began their 10,000-step walk around District 7 through a given route.
Among the walkers were senior city officials, beauty queens and celebrities who had joined the walk to raise awareness about the lack of exercise among citizens.
“I’ve been running 20 minutes a day for the past year, so the walk was not that much of a challenge,” pop singer Tieu Chau Nhu Quynh said.
“It’s a wonderful experience nonetheless to be walking among such an energetic crowd on a beautiful Sunday morning.”
“What we do here will inspire others to exercise,” said Le Hang, who will represent Vietnam at Miss Universe 2017. “I hope that the 10,000 steps of today will be multiplied.”
By 8:00 am, the first participants had crossed the finish line after a 45-minute walk.
Huynh Thi Mui, one of the first finishers, said she walked or biked five kilometers every day from her home to the nearest bus station in Cu Chi District to take a bus to her college in District 10.
“I’ve gotten used to it so 10,000 steps were all fun and games,” Mui said enthusiastically.
Mui said as a freshman she had been prone to sickness due to her weak physique, but her health had improved drastically since she took up walking and biking.
Nguyen Tan Binh, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health, stressed that the event was meant to raise citizens’ awareness about exercise and nutrition and to call for the adoption of a healthier lifestyle, which in turn would improve the physique and health of city residents.
Binh said Ho Chi Minh City residents already enjoyed superior health measurements compared to the country’s average, most notably in height and malnutrition rates.
“However, there are growing numbers of younger people with obesity, which is linked to other health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure,” Binh added. “Regular exercise, coupled with proper nutrition, will help tackle these problems.”
Le The Chu, acting editor-in-chief of Tuoi Tre, said the program’s foremost goal was to inspire citizens to exercise and form a walking habit to improve their own health.
According to WHO recommendations, walking 10,000 steps a day helps prevent multiple chronic diseases and fight obesity.
However, surveys conducted on Ho Chi Minh City residents showed that many office workers only walked around 600 steps a day.
The ‘steps’ can take the form of other exercises, which should be done at least 30 minutes a day for at least five days a week, according to health experts.
Sixty minutes of exercise a day will do wonders for the prevention of such chronic conditions as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases.