Apparently Chinese college students are really unhealthy. According to an article by Li Yao and Ma Lie at Xinhua:

The cancellation of long-distance races at university games has highlighted the issue of declining physical fitness among college students.

More than 30 universities in Xi’an no longer held long-distance races because of the decline in students physical fitness, leading to concerns the students may suffer injury or even death if they took part in intense physical activity. From 2002 to 2010 in China, more than 40 participants in long-distance running events aged 16 and over died suddenly….

This is apparently a trend across the country. Chinese universities traditionally require students to pass a physical fitness test in order to graduate, but many students are apparently begging instructors just to give them a pass, because they’re not healthy enough to pass on their own.

Why is this? Perhaps it’s the air pollution. Maybe it’s lack of exercise (Chinese universities are, unlike American ones, not locations for fancy gyms) or the heavy smoking.

At any rate, it turns out many students think about the physical fitness examination only at the end of their time at the university. And by then it might be too late.

Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean Chinese students are less healthy than Americans. Many American colleges are very concerned with student obesity. It’s just that American colleges generally don’t require fitness test for graduation, so it’s not a crisis.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer