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Beijing reintroduces mandatory exercises

China may be surpassing the United States in energy use and is catching up in the race for the world’s biggest economy, but there’s one superlative Beijing is trying to avoid: world’s fattest country. Starting this week, the city of Beijing has resumed mandatory daily workplace calisthenics, after a three-year break. Radio broadcast exercise regimens ...

STR/AFP/Getty Images
STR/AFP/Getty Images

China may be surpassing the United States in energy use and is catching up in the race for the world's biggest economy, but there's one superlative Beijing is trying to avoid: world's fattest country.

Starting this week, the city of Beijing has resumed mandatory daily workplace calisthenics, after a three-year break. Radio broadcast exercise regimens first began in 1951, but were suspended in 2007 so broadcasters could spend more time reporting on the 2008 Summer Olympics, held in Beijing. According to the media blog Danwei, Radio Exercise Set #8 will be broadcast on FM 102.5 every day at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Four million workers in the city are participating.

The Guardian interviewed several Beijing residents who supported the move, claiming it will benefit the city's younger workers:

China may be surpassing the United States in energy use and is catching up in the race for the world’s biggest economy, but there’s one superlative Beijing is trying to avoid: world’s fattest country.

Starting this week, the city of Beijing has resumed mandatory daily workplace calisthenics, after a three-year break. Radio broadcast exercise regimens first began in 1951, but were suspended in 2007 so broadcasters could spend more time reporting on the 2008 Summer Olympics, held in Beijing. According to the media blog Danwei, Radio Exercise Set #8 will be broadcast on FM 102.5 every day at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Four million workers in the city are participating.

The Guardian interviewed several Beijing residents who supported the move, claiming it will benefit the city’s younger workers:

"They are not lazy, they are just too busy. They have a lot of pressure at work and don’t have time to exercise otherwise," said retired engineer Yang Jinrong, 55, as she took a break from playing badminton with her husband in a city centre park.

"Of course, the radio exercises will do young people good. Like they say on TV, ‘Life lies in movement’," said Li Zhigang, 50, dropping to the ground to demonstrate the lotus yoga position.

Mr Sun, a 30-year-old who works in marketing, said he hoped private sector firms would adopt the drills. "I think this [resumption] is really necessary, because people’s living habits are very bad now. They sit in the office the whole day," he said.

"I have my own exercise plan, but I never put it into practice because I am too busy."

Each exercise session is only 8 minutes long, meaning Chinese citizens might still need to hit the gym in order to offset the calories consumed at the country’s 3,000 Kentucky Fried Chicken branches (apparently, Yum Brands opens one new KFC in mainland China nearly every day).   How do you say Double Down in Mandarin?

Suzanne Merkelson is an editorial assistant at Foreign Policy.

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