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More Chinese senior citizens keen on exercise

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-05-06 16:01
A senior citizen plays diabolo by the Xihu Lake in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang province, Oct 15, 2010. [Photo/Xinhua]

YINCHUAN -- The early morning of Zhongshan Park in Yinchuan, capital city of China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region, is ignited by the enthusiasm of sports-lovers.

Lots of senior citizens are busy doing their everyday exercises including Taiji, peg-tops, singing and dancing.

"There are many different ways to exercise, and people can always find one fitting for themselves. For me, I feel happy to play diabolo," 75-year-old Zhang Wancheng said.

Zhang has been playing diabolo for 11 years. Unlike square-dance, badminton and many other exercises he once tried, he can play diabolo any time at any place, just by himself.

Diabolo is a traditional Chinese folk game, in which one can throw and catch a spinning top by moving a cord fastened to two sticks. It requires coordination from the eyes, arms, neck and legs, and thus is beneficial for the elderly to maintain mental and physical flexibility.

"Last year I went to have my driver's license checked, the officers all thumbed up after I easily finished two deep squats and an eyesight test," Zhang said.

In 2014, the Yinchuan Diabolo Association was founded, and now has about 70 members including Zhang Wancheng. "I left my workplace but found another one here, and I feel fulfilled again," he said.

62-year-old Zhang Chunshan is also a diabolo-lover. When a 7-meter-long dragon made of cloth is attached to his diabolo, dancing as he moves skillfully, he becomes a "dragon trainer."

"A healthy body is important for people to live a high-quality life, especially for us senior citizens in our twilight years," he said.

The younger Zhang retired earlier because of a surgery, and then devoted himself to exercises in the park as playing diabolo and playing chess in the morning, and conducting body-building on the parallel bars in the afternoon have become his daily routine.

"I keep exercising every day, even when it snows, I would clear up a place to stretch my body," said Zhang, adding that one has got to have some spiritual pursuit in order to make his life worth living.

Playing diabolo requires more physical strength and as many senior citizens get on in years, they would like to choose some mild sports, such as Taijiquan, Taiji sword, Taiji fan, Taijirouli ball, and similar activities.

Taijirouli ball requires players to always catch a bouncy ball with a matched racket while combining Taichi moves in the process, and 65-year-old Xue Chunyan has been playing it for 13 years.

"It's easy to play, but hard to play well. Senior citizens have more spare time to practice different routines," Xue said.

Lately, Xue noticed a positive change as more retirees joined the exercisers in the park.

"They used to go home directly from the farmers market, but now many of them will come here for two-hours of exercise and then go back to prepare lunch," she said.

According to her, there are about 700 members in the Yinchuan Taijirouli ball Association, and the number has been steadily increasing in recent years.

"Now I want to recruit some 'younger' players, who are newly retired and more energetic, because they can learn more routines and attract more elderly people," Xue said.

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