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In Vietnam, young women favor health over sheer beauty

Tuesday, March 03, 2020, 11:25 GMT+7
In Vietnam, young women favor health over sheer beauty
Nguyen Thi Thanh works out at a gym in this provided photo.

Using the term ‘the weaker sex’ to refer to women is drawing a flawed analogy, one that especially does not apply to some young Vietnamese women determined that mere outward appearance without proper bodily constitution is simply not enough.

“My family even go walking for exercise on our vacations,” said Tran Thuy Huong, a former runner who has taken to walking as a daily routine.

“What is more lovely than a family walking together along the beach at sunrise, feeling a great sense of solitude and calmness?”

The daily joy of walking

Huong is a 39-year-old woman living in Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City.

Once a devout runner, a traffic accident some years ago has left her unable to continue running, though such a hurdle did not dwindle her urge to exercise.

“I was used to the fast pace of running, so walking on the first few days felt kind of boring and too relaxed,” she said.

However, she got hooked only a few months into the practice.

Her daily schedule now includes 45 minutes in the morning and half an hour in the evening for this healthful activity.

On weekends, Huong could spend two hours walking at a stretch to enhance stamina and burn extra fat.

She is convinced that walking burns fat effectively and does not put a strain on one’s body as much as running or going to the gym.

“Walking offers its own beauty. I can easily find people with the same hobby, especially those around my age, at any public park,” she added.

“I also get the feeling that walking, somehow, is a form of meditation. It must be the laid-back movement that helps to calm the nerves and refresh my neurons.”

The walker says there is no secret to her sports life at all. She simply started with a few kilometers a day, and then got swept into the hobby and began conquering longer routes.

Her 12-year-old son, 14-year-old daughter and 53-year-old engineer husband all love walking.

‘Gymming’ for beauty

Finding herself admiring the curved figure of female gym goers, Nguyen Thi Thanh, 24, decided to follow the trend.

“At first I was exercising at home, but it was so limiting that I eventually hit the gym to practice with a personal trainer,” she said.

“That way I was more motivated and was ‘gymming’ more effectively.”

Thanh holds the view that a lovely facade is rooted in inner strong health, so her first reason for joining a gym membership was to improve her health.

“I was competing in a beauty pageant in 2016, so I had to exercise and went on healthy diets.”

From her accounts, going to the gym gave her an entirely different feeling about her physique.

The 1.72 meter tall woman went from 53 kilograms to 58 kilograms after ‘gymming’ properly.

She was enjoying better health, fewer sicknesses, less stress, and a nicer complexion.

“Working out helps me sleep better so I’m always in a fresh frame of mind. It basically helps me live a healthy and pretty life,” she explained.

Thanh now dedicates three sessions weekly to the gym and two sessions to yoga, and says she will feel greatly depressed if for some reason she cannot stick to the schedule.

Tran Ho Nguyen Thao warms up before a run in this provided photo.

Tran Ho Nguyen Thao warms up before a run in this provided photo.

Running as a stress reliever

Working in the field of media, Tran Ho Nguyen Thao, who resides in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City, is constantly under work pressure.

It soon dawned on her that such office work was not the best match. The mental strain pushed her to the park to let off steam.

“After running for a while, I got a few companions. They’re keen runners and have shown me how to run correctly,” she said.

“I felt joyful after every run, and gradually fell in love with it. I thought it was time to make a career move.”

Last year, Thao left her job and flung herself into doing what she wanted.

She runs approximately 10 kilometers a day in about 60 minutes.

Besides exercising at the park and sports centers, the 26-year-old woman joins other runners for group activities 1-2 times a week.

“When I was still working in the office, I had to wake up at 4:30 am so that I could start running at 5:00 am, then have breakfast and head for work,” she recalled.

“Without passion, I must have given up.”

After half a year running as a professional, she was trained to partake in two competitions, the latest of which being the Revive Marathon in Ho Chi Minh City.

“It was my first time running a 10km marathon. I got worn out after the first six kilometers,” she said.

“But I kept on, and finally I still managed to cross the finish line. I was so happy.”

Ever since, the once reserved young girl filled with negative thoughts, as she claimed herself to be, has transformed into a thriving woman with the spirits of an energetic sportsperson.

She is now practicing on longer routes and getting herself ready to become a running coach.

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