Bai Jinqin, a 74-year-old bodybuilding adept, exercises at a gym in north China's Tianjin, March 13, 2019. (YUE YUEWEI / XINHUA)
LANZHOU - With the awareness of keeping fit being strengthened among the public, gyms are springing up all across China. However, gyms are no longer just a hot spot for youth looking to stay physically fit but a place where an increasing number of seniors are popping up to maintain a healthier lifestyle.
Liu Jiachang, 58, enjoys going to the gym in his spare time. It is a posh choice for people his age because most of his peers would rather join in square dancing or do outdoor exercises like jogging and strolling.
I usually go to the gym after work. I will warm up for about 30 minutes, and after a short break, I will use the exercise equipment for another three hours
As an engine driver, Liu has to work long hours. He had long suffered spine and neck pain, as well as hyperlipidemia, high blood pressure and an abnormally large amount of sugar in the blood. He used to feel his arms lacking tension and endurance weakening.
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Liu wanted to make some changes by exercising. He chose a gym in his community in the city of Lanzhou, capital of northwest China's Gansu Province, which has professional fitness instructors who can provide scientific guidance and the facilities are a safe and comfortable environment.
"I usually go to the gym after work. I will warm up for about 30 minutes, and after a short break, I will use the exercise equipment for another three hours," said Liu, adding lifting 26 kg dumbbells is a piece of cake.
"I feel 'recharged,' and those pains and illness are gradually disappearing," He added.
Feng Yong, 67, is a spiritual idol of many gym-goers. Encouraged by her son, Feng first went to the gym three years ago. She was attracted by various kinds of aerobics, especially ballet and Latin dance.
Feng also uses different equipment to get in shape.
"A rowing machine can help you build a perfect back. If you want to strengthen your chest muscles, you'd better perform butterfly sit-ups," Feng said.
Feng spends around five hours per day at the gym. She has built a better body through constantly training.
"I've seen a growing number of elderly people come to the gym. The number of consumers aged between 50 and 65 accounts for 40 percent of the total number of consumers at my gym," said Liu Shengjie, who runs a gym in Lanzhou.
A group of Shisuo lovers who age 75 years old and above practice at Yixian Bridge in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province, June 5, 2019. (YANG LEI / XINHUA)
In China, square dancing, walking and running are common among senior citizens, but those common methods can no longer meet demands, as elderly people's consumption has been upgraded in recent years. This group is now willing to pay more attention and money to obtain professional knowledge about how to stay healthy.
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"Gyms can not only help the seniors build a better body but also meet their demands for social contact. Gyms have now become important places for the elderly," said Li Yan, vice principal of the Lanzhou University for the Elderly.
Li also advised the elderly to do exercises scientifically and moderately.
China issued an action plan for 2019-2030 in July to implement the country's Healthy China initiative and promote people's health.
In the plan, the elderly are advised to engage in exercise in a way that suits them. It encourages aerobics, muscle training and balance exercises and warns of risks of falls.
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