One of the things I love, love, love about living in China is how fit you get. Some foreigners come to China and get fatter, and I just don’t even get how that’s possible.
You need to walk everywhere, the food is much healthier and aside from the poisoned air and gutter oil, life is very healthy here. Don’t believe me? I have quantifiable proof this time.
When I was in America, I used my credit card points to get a fitbit. It’s a fitness bracelet, like a fancy pedometer, that measures not just your steps, but your level of activity, calories burned and even measures your sleep at night. It’s pretty awesome.
You can also set goals, and the fitbit default goal is 10,000 steps. You get a little “wrist-gasm” when you accomplish your goals. (It buzzes, the lights flash and it’s super exciting.) 10,000 steps a day is what most experts say is a good baseline for making sure you have a healthy, active lifestyle. It’s about 4.5 miles.
I wore the fit bit everyday for weeks in America so I got a pretty good baseline for the American lifestyle. In the three weeks I wore it, the only times I accomplished the 10,000 goal was when I was in a city, either New York of Boston. In the days I traveled the most physically, like drove a few hundred miles, were the days I barely broke 4,000steps. I even tried to walk places instead of driving in America, but breaking 10,000 steps was just too hard without blocking off a big amount of time to take a hike somewhere.
But in china?! No problem. My wrist starts buzzing sometimes in the early evening, and I have been surpassing 10,000 steps almost everyday. The only day I didn’t meet the goal was the day I had 6 hours of class. I was so exhausted afterwards (the damn heat wears me out) I stayed home that night. It was my least active day but I still passed 8,000 steps. In America my least active day was a mere 1,500 steps.
Just doing the basic necessities here requires a lot of walking and moving. I sat in a cute little cafe to do some writing the other day and it took me about 3,000 steps just to get there. In America I’d drive, sit, and drive back, averaging very few steps. But here? I have a workout both before and after more than making up for the thick mango smoothie I ordered.
And not to mention the awesome sights you see when you walk around. I admit that walking in suburban America can be boring. All you see is houses, lawns and a few shops (usually closed if your walking at night). But in China you get to see so much. Families sitting on plastic stools chatting away, old ladies dancing, fruit sellers trying to get you to buy their stuff, and families not only cooking outside, but sitting around the pot eating on the sidewalk.
And that’s just the physical part of it. Meanwhile my eating has improved drastically. Sure, you can get chips and cookies here, but they are pretty dry and tasteless and even in America I don’t eat much of that. Instead my dinners are mostly veggies with a little meat, and snacks tend to be fruit related.
In fact, one of my favorite snacks here is the “fruit salad bar.” Available at almost every fruit shop it’s a cooler filled with cut and peeled fruit. You just choose what you want and weigh it. It’s one buck for half a kilo. Because of the size of the container I have never paid more than 1.50. And it doesn’t just have the “cheap” fruit like watermelon and apples, but mango, dragonfruit, kiwis and some local chinese stuff. It’s awesomely convenient and delicious. The last place I lived didn’t have these, and I think it’s a genius idea.
I know that China isn’t the first place people think of when you think of “healthy lifestyle” but for me, it’s great for my health. In fact, I’ve lost almost 9 pounds of my American flab since arriving here 2 weeks ago. At some point my body will acclimatize to all the exercise but until then I’ll milk it for all it’s worth.