Fireworks are seen during the opening ceremony of the 31st FISU Summer World University Games in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan Province, July 28, 2023. (Xinhua/Huang Wei)
BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- At around 7 p.m., the road at the back of a stadium in central Beijing is teeming with cars, scooters and bicycles. This is the usual time for parents to pick up their children finishing ball games or athletic trainings during the summer break.
As the sweaty and tired children leave with their parents, more children, as well as adults, swarm in. The stadium closes at 10 p.m.
Just a 15-minute walk from the stadium is a section of the historical moat, and people can be seen jogging and walking along the nearby riverside footpath, or flying their LED kites on a bridge.
This is an epitome of how fitness and sports are gaining increasing popularity in modern China. Tuesday marks the country's 15th National Fitness Day.
PASSION FOR FITNESS, SPORTS
An amateur football tournament in the mountainous Guizhou Province in southwest China has become a nationwide sensation during the summer months of 2023.
The teams are comprised of local villagers, including farmers, fish sellers, construction workers, and chefs.
There was no red carpet or star players making their way to the pitch. Yet, the matches attracted tens of thousands of spectators cheering on site and millions more following the event on social media.
Few people were concerned about the outcome. It was the passion and sportsmanship demonstrated by these amateur players and the jolly, warm and relaxing atmosphere on the field that inspired the audiences.
The passion for sports is flaming across China's rural areas. There is also a village basketball tournament in east China's Zhejiang Province, a village volleyball tournament in the southern island province of Hainan, and dragon boat races in Hunan and Guangdong.
With social and economic development and government support, people are exhibiting a stronger awareness for sports and exercises, which has boosted public fitness among urban and rural residents, said Luo Weixiang, an associate professor at Shanghai-based Fudan University.
A ROBUST PUBLIC SERVICE SYSTEM
China believes that people's health is one of the most important indicators of modernization. The country has elevated nationwide fitness, making it a national strategy.
To satisfy people's fitness and training needs, sports-themed parks have been built wherever permitted, be it under elevated bridges or upon obsolete factories.
By the end of 2022, there were 4.23 million sports facilities nationwide, covering an area of 3.7 billion square meters. More than 500 million people, or about 35 percent of the population, regularly engaged in physical exercises.
In September, the eastern city of Hangzhou will host the 19th Asian Games, which will gather more than 12,000 athletes from over 40 countries.
A total of 87 venues, either for competition or training during the event, are now open to the public, and over 10 million visits have been made by residents taking part in fitness exercises here.
China is moving to see that by 2025, a higher-level social service system for public fitness will be essentially established, with a per capita sports facility area of 2.6 square meters. Some 38.5 percent of the country's population will regularly participate in physical exercises.
INTEGRATION OF FITNESS, HEALTH
Recognizing the vital role of sports in improving people's health and forestalling diseases, Chinese authorities have been working to foster the fusion of fitness and health.
An outline for "Healthy China 2030" issued in 2016 highlights the integration of sports and medicine, calling for fully utilizing scientific physical exercises in health promotion, chronic disease prevention, and rehabilitation. It also advocates the promotion of sports and health services covering the entire lifecycle.
In July, a sports and health integration association was set up in Fujian Province by local sports and health authorities with the aim to leverage sports in disease prevention, treatment, and health promotion.
While Jiangsu Province boasts 12 provincial pilot centers for promoting health through physical activities, and 100 primary-level chronic disease intervention centers featuring sports-related approaches.
In steadfast pursuit of elevating people's physical well-being, China remains committed to refining its advanced fitness and health services to foster a healthier populace and improve life quality for all. ■