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Fitness program pushes more Chinese to bodybuilding


06-23-2016 18:46 BJT

China's national fitness program is starting to pay dividends with Park gyms springing up all over the country and gym attendance rising. But the World Health Organisation is still warning that the majority of the country's 1.3 billion people are still not getting enough exercise.


China's national fitness program is starting to pay dividends with Park gyms springing up all over the country and gym attendance rising.

Bouncing their way to fitness. These children are enjoying the latest activity park to open on the outskirts of Beijing.

The owners hope it will kick off a new craze for trampolining.

"Trampoline combines elements of entertainment and sports. I think the main value of it will be sports. We are a member of China's developing fitness industry. I think we will become big in the future," said Shen Baokuan, manager of Latitude Trampoline park.

The fitness industry in China has been growing since the government implemented a national fitness program in 2011, aimed at encouraging people of all ages to lead a healthier lifestyle. Over the past few years, newly built fitness areas have sprung up in community parks across the country.

Senior citizens sweating it out alongside young people is now a common sight.

"It's for my health. You need to have good health even if you're retired. It's a burden to your children and relatives if you get ill," said Zhang Qifa, 60-year-old Beijing local.

"It's safe because it is public facilities. It's convenient because many of the old people are living nearby. It's good to have a place to take exercise and chat with others," said Cao Zhifeng, 46-year-old Beijing local.

In 2014, the concept of national fitness became a strategy, attracting more and more investment to the fitness industry.

A market research report from IBIS World says China's health and fitness industry saw an annualised growth of 13.7 percent between 2010 and 2015. And according to the General Administration of Sport, a third of Chinese people were consistently taking exercise by the end of 2014, an increase of 5 percent compared with 2007.

But at the same time, another report issued by the World Health Organisation shows that China is facing a major diabetes crisis which could have serious health, social and economic consequences.

It indicates that 110 million adults in China currently live with diabetes and one third of them are overweight.

"There's many reasons why this leads drastic change over the past generation, and it's mainly related to changing of lifestyles. What I mean by that is that people today don't have enough physical activity, and many people have very unhealthy food behaviours. So they're eating far too much fat, they're eating too much sugar, but they're also eating too much salt, and all of that put together, the lack of physical activity and the unhealthy diets really are one of the major major factors for diabetes that we see today but also for the overweight that's increasing rapidly," said Dr. Bernhard Schwartlander, WHO Representative in China.

Schwartlander believes 80 percent of young people in China still do not get enough physical activity.

But many companies have seen the potential of a combined increase in health awareness and rising disposable incomes among China's booming middle class.

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