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Campaign promotes healthier lifestyles

By Jiang Wei | China Daily | Updated: 2023-10-09 08:43

Fans cheer for Hunan Billows during a soccer game in the Chinese Football Association Cup that was held in Loudi, Central China's Hunan province, on June 22. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Residents of a city in Hunan province offer a microcosm of the picture nationwide. Jiang Wei reports.

Despite having been retired for many years, Tan Jianchang maintains a busy schedule.

As leader of a square dancing team that has more than 200 members, Tan practices for an hour twice a day, starting at 7 am and 7 pm. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, she teaches square dancing at a college for seniors.

Occasionally, her team takes part in square dancing competitions in their hometown of Loudi, in the central province of Hunan, and also in big cities such as Xiamen, Fujian province, Shenzhen, Guangdong province, and Hong Kong. The members have won several gold prizes.

Watching Tan dance, it's hard to believe that she is 70 years old. "I started square dancing after I retired," she said.

"Dancing and hanging out with friends make me happy every day, and I'm full of vigor now."

Tan established her square dancing team in 2013, and she is always full of pride when she talks about the members — most of whom are pensioners — and the changes that the activity has brought to their lives.

"One of my team members is more than 80 years old. She used to be sickly and lay in bed most of the time," Tan said.

"Since she joined my dancing team, her health has improved a lot. Now, she seldom gets sick, and she is grateful to me."

Varied activities

As a low-intensity form of working out, square dancing is one of the most suitable activities for seniors.

In Loudi, a city with a population of more than 4 million, there is a strong fitness theme, and many seniors enjoy dancing, tai chi, qigong and hill walking.

Members of the town's younger generation prefer sports that feature a strong social element. The growing popularity of sports that include flying discs in recent years is a perfect example.

"It's an activity where there is no physical contact. It's easy to play and a lot of fun. It helps you lose weight and get in shape," said Li Xiaolong, a flying disc enthusiast.

As the national fitness campaign gains momentum, the habit of exercising to stay healthy has taken root and a growing number of people now consider physical exercise a key part of life.

"More than 95 percent of Loudi's residents take part in sports," said Peng Yiling, director of the Loudi Culture, Sports, Tourism, Broadcast, TV and Tourism Bureau.

"We often organize competitions to encourage residents to take part in sports. Some people join in to be with their friends, while others just love sports so they encourage their families to do them, too."

The development of a mass fitness movement in Loudi is a microcosm of the overall picture in China, where a growing number of people are enthusiastically playing sports.

"Obviously, competitive sports are a key aspect to people aspiring to athletic greatness, but the idea of sports for all is crucial to promoting truly healthy lifestyles," said Robert Rauch, president of the World Flying Disc Federation.

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