By Kim Rahn
In its latest pronouncement on public welfare, Seoul City is asking doctors to not only prescribe medicine but also recommend sports programs suitable for each patient, in a bid to encourage citizens to take more exercise.
The city government announced a sports master plan Thursday to encourage citizens to exercise more to improve their health, lower medical expenses and increase sports-related jobs.
"By providing infrastructure and developing sports programs and policies, we aim to get 70 percent of citizens to exercise for 30 minutes at least once a week by 2020, while currently 53 percent are doing so," city official Jeong Kwang-hyun said.
According to the plan, the city will ask doctors' groups in Seoul to prescribe "exercise remedies" for patients starting next year.
"In Sweden where 94 percent of people exercise for 30 minutes per week, doctors provide patients with exercise programs according to their needs, and such measures are effective. People who don't exercise willingly will change their minds if doctors tell them to do so," Jeong said.
Besides the exercise remedies, the city will develop various walking and trekking programs at parks, in mountains and along the Han River and increase public awareness of existing walking courses.
It will also expand sports services at welfare centers. "While exercise and sports are good for the elderly or the disabled to enhance their health, the number of exercise instructors at such facilities is too small," Jeong said.
As well as recruiting more instructors, the city government will collect 500 volunteers to offer lectures on stretching, yoga, dance, sports massage and other programs by visiting such facilities.
"Those measures will also help increase jobs, including posts for exercise instructors at welfare facilities and schools," he said.
For expats and multiracial families, it plans to hold championships for sports events popular among them, such as table tennis, football and sepak takraw.
It will also build more sports facilities and improve old ones. For Jamsil baseball stadium, it will complete the process of putting in new seats, expand the number of toilets and establish smoking rooms before the upcoming spring season begins. Earlier this week, Seoul City issued guidelines regarding the sale of alcohol which it claims will reduce alcohol consumption and problems associated with excessive drinking. However, the guidelines are not supported in law.