KUALA LUMPUR: The Government is targeting that over half of the Malaysian population will exercise regularly or be active in sports in the next five years.
Currently, only about 30% of Malaysians are physically active, based on a 2009 research on the involvement of youths and the society in sports.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said he was hoping the rate would increase to more than 50% “over the next four to five years”, with the FitMalaysia movement launched on Sunday.
“To change takes time. Maybe in one year, we won’t be able to see a drastic increase.
But if we consistently carry out the FitMalaysia programme, I am sure we will see changes,” he told reporters at the launching of the initiative at Dataran Merdeka here.
FitMalaysia is a national movement which aims to transform Malaysia from a “sports loving nation” to a “sporting nation”.
Under this move, programmes, which include running events, cycling and fitness activities, will be conducted at each state. Khairy said there were plans to hold the FitMalaysia event twice a year in every state.
He hoped this movement will create a wave among Malaysians nationwide to start getting active and become a policy that even outlasts his tenure as minister.
“I told the Cabinet Committee on Sports Development that what we spend on sports and FitMalaysia is relatively small compared to what you need to spend later on health care costs, especially for people with diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular diseases.
“It is best to have preventive policies. FitMalaysia is also about creating a healthier country,” he said.
Khairy said there was also a need to break the myth that sports was only for youths.
“In FitMalaysia, we have events for everybody including senior citizens and people with different abilities,” he said.
He said there will be a “surprise” to culminate the FitMalaysia movement to be announced by the Prime Minister when the time was right.
Khairy said all stakeholders such as the Education Ministry, Health Ministry and private sector, should be involved in creating an active and healthy society but it was most important for the people to embrace such a lifestyle.
“If the rakyat is active, we will be able to easily identify new talents or find the next Datuk Lee Chong Wei or Datuk Nicol David,” he said.
The FitMalaysia programme will be conducted next in Malacca on Sept 14 and Sabah on Sept 21.
During the event, Khairy joined thousands of Malaysians in several fitness activities and took part in the 5km TM Team Malaysia Fan Run.
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