|Olympic passion turns into "exercise fervor" in China(08/29/08)|
BEIJING, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- The end of the Olympic Games has not been the end of exercise for Beijing, for people's enthusiasm for keeping fit has been encouraged.
In a country where going to gyms was not as common, even in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, as in developed countries the immediate aftermath of the Games has seen greater interest in exercise.
"I liked watching the basketball games most. I myself wanted to play when I saw the players fight hard on the field, so I came here with my friends," the 19-year-old Liu Bing said at an outside basketball field in downtown Beijing.
Liu said he wanted to get physically stronger after regular exercises.
Zhu Mo was a volunteer serving at the Capital Indoor Stadium where volleyball matches were staged during the Games.
"The atmosphere of fierce competition has affected everyone at the site. We all feel like playing some volleyball to get involved."
People exercising were not exclusive to sports fields. Some would just go outdoors. Actually it's quite common for Chinese people to take outdoor exercise, instead of going to gyms, to keep fit.
"More people developed the habit of doing some outdoor exercise in the morning or in the evening," said a middle-aged woman surnamed Li, who lives in a community in the north of Beijing.
"Young people were jogging and the elderly would form into groups practicing dances with traditional Chinese-style swords and fans."
The government had in recent years installed public outdoor gym facilities inside residential areas and at other public places to encourage citizens to have more exercise.
More than three billion yuan (428.6 million U.S. dollars) had been devoted to the creation of more than 20 million square meters of such areas nationwide.
Li said such facilities have made it convenient for them to take exercise.
"We actually had more members coming here during the Olympics, though we earlier feared visits would be reduced as some chose to stay at home watching games," Chang Mengya, a marketing employee at one of the fitness center of Haosha Gym in Beijing.
"I believe more people have become concerned about their health and developed some awareness about having exercise because of the Games."
In a nationwide survey among 1,200 interviewees, nearly a third of the respondents said the Olympics had inspired them to participate in more sports events and diversify their exercises.