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The Chinese are fit

Popularity 7Viewed 5706 times 2014-3-31 14:39 |System category:Life| exercise, tai chi, qi gong, dancing, gym

Referencing back to my previous post about expensive gyms, I've come to the realization that people who went to these kinds of gyms were typically expats, or at least the two gyms that I went to were. With the membership prices so high, even in my Canadian standards, a looming question started to build in my mind; how DO the Chinese stay fit? In this post, I will touch base on this topic based on personal observations.

Chinese workers are strong, have good endurance and endless tolerance
Living on campus, I would see typically older men about 55-60 years of age pulling large wagons piled sky-high with objects, like garbage, goods or piles and piles of cardboard. They'll be pulling them around campus and up and over bridges, and this is their job. I've seen them throughout the city as well, but less frequently. Comparing these men to the men in my country, I am ashamed to say that it's not comparable at all.

Working man, carrying tons of items on his bike. Photo credits to my friend Jason W. who took this picture in Guangzhou

Back in Canada, this job would be executed with the help of machinery, like at my university, a small golf-cart-like vehicle or a truck would be used in place. Moreover, older men wouldn't even working such a job.

The Chinese would find the most economical way to exercise
Like walking. I learned from my friends that the Chinese frequently take a short walk following a meal to aid digestion. Which probably would explain why I found so many people walking around the school track around 8pm (refer to previous blog about exercise). In addition, many students play soccer or basketball in outdoor fields and courts; it's free, fun and a good workout. 

Tai chi, qi gong and Chinese group dancing
Walking through a park in Shanghai, you'll find that the Chinese tend to go for strolls are very early hours at around 5-6 am. Throughout the day, you'll find people practicing tai chi, qi gong by themselves or in a small group. Usually during the evenings and during the weekends, you'll find older Chinese women dancing outdoors to Chinese music. 

Chinese women dancing to chinese music on a Saturday morning.

Free outdoor gyms
I recently discovered a free outdoor gym at a park near my university, I was so mind-blown and amused because I have never seen such a thing before. The gym equipment there were so cleverly manufactured to suit the needs of the users with respect to the limitations such as space, cost, and electricity. There was an elliptical machine that did not require electricity, a leg press and a row machine that uses your own body weight, pullies and wheels to work out the arms and shoulders as well as many others. Although the equipment did seem to target seniors, I found good use of some of the equipment by modifying the way you are supposed to use it. 

Seen: Elliptical on the left side, pull up bars
Swing your legs to and fro; works out the abs
Twist upper torso back and forth; works out the lats/abs
Row machine that uses your own body weight

I wouldn't be surprised, I knew the Chinese are very conscious about their health. I'm Canadian-born-Chinese, my mother would always cook medicinal soup to "balance" my body, my father would frequently practice tai chi or qi gong in the backyard. I haven't visited a elementary school here is China, but my mother told me that when she was little, she would have morning exercises everyday as a class. Moreover, with scrumptious food every direction you look as well as street vendors offering fragrant and mouth watering food, it's no wonder that the Chinese do exercise as much as the people back in my hometown do; just in a different way.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-3-31 16:40
"Little and often" seems to come into it . Some Chinese do not make a big production of going to a commercial gym. They find a wall of right height and stretch one leg on it then another, they find a small set of steps and walk up and down (backwards) many times. And which Chinese does not own a bike?  Keep it simple, do it often! We can learn from that.
Reply Report voice_cd 2014-4-1 09:28
Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted your blog.
Reply Report 财神 2014-4-1 09:38
chinese are very hardworking, they have very high tolerance and can bare so hard things too. i have seen many times in beijing. it's joyful to visit your article. copying colin's line-Keep it simple, do it often! We can learn from that.''
Reply Report thomas.wood 2014-4-1 10:19
Great post.  I agree and think that this is a great habit that Chinese people have, they're very enthusiastic about getting outside and exercising.  (I wrote a blog about this.)  People do all the things that you mentioned and also play basketball, table tennis and badminton on outdoor courts.  Lots of people like to walk or run on the run on the running track at my school.  I'd agree with Colin that the "little and often" approach is common in China, rather than making a big event of going to the gym.  There's a nice Chinese saying which encapsulates this attitude: "饭后百步走,活到九十九。” , "Walk a hundred steps after each meal and you'll live to me ninety-nine."
Reply Report LanaLiao 2014-4-2 11:43
ColinSpeakman: "Little and often" seems to come into it . Some Chinese do not make a big production of going to a commercial gym. They find a wall of right ...
Well, recently I am thinking about buying a handy bicycle to exercise. That's ecomonical and environment-friendly.
Reply Report tedbrent 2014-4-4 13:19
LanaLiao: Well, recently I am thinking about buying a handy bicycle to exercise. That's ecomonical and environment-friendly.
I have gained some weight lately, becoming another portly guy. I think I need to find a way to be fit; otherwise, someone could place three desks on my bulging belly  while still  managing to find space for two  upholstered chairs eventually.
Reply Report LanaLiao 2014-4-6 01:15
tedbrent: I have gained some weight lately, becoming another portly guy. I think I need to find a way to be fit; otherwise, someone could place three desks on m ...
Haha,   seems you have the same big belly as my husband does. Well, that indeed doesn't look so pretty, but touches very soft just like a ball of fluffy cotten.

Here I share with you what I was once told and also impressed: don't sit when you can stand, and don't lie when you can sit, especially after a meal.
Reply Report tedbrent 2014-4-6 10:17
   . Actually, it's not truly hard for me  to be  slim or fit . Problem is, most baches like me are just slobs loth to do exercise; we would rather veg out or  spend more time watching news related to sports.

  Thanks for the tip, lanaliao. I really want to be a well-built guy aggggggggain.

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Jessica is a Chinese language student and has been staying in Shanghai since February 2014.


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