Shanghai gets physical to mark Fitness Day

Near 1,000 sports arenas, gyms and fitness centers around the city were open to the public for free on Wednesday to mark the 10th National Fitness Day.
Dong Jun / SHINE

Wednesday marks the 10th National Fitness Day.

In honor of the 10th National Fitness Day, competitions and fitness activities were held across Shanghai yesterday. There were events for running, badminton, basketball and square dancing, among many others; while over 1,000 local sports arenas, gyms and fitness centers opened to the public for free. 

Among the venues that welcomed visitors were 57 city and district-level facilities like the Oriental Sports Center, Xianxia Tennis Center and Jiangwan Stadium. About 100 local health centers also provided free physicals.

Apart from gyms and sports centers, swimming pools were popular with visitors thanks to the day’s scorching heat. According to the Hongkou Swimming Pool, all of its free booking slots were filled well in advance.

“This is like an annual festival for citizens to do some sports together,” swimmer Zhang Baiqiang told Shanghai Daily. “I tried to take my son here last year, but the quotas were filled. This year we registered early.”

National Fitness Day was established to commemorate the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games on August 8, 2008, and also to encourage people to pursue healthy lifestyles.

A recent survey by the Shanghai Sports Bureau showed that over 42 percent of citizens take part in sports activities “frequently,” meaning at least three times a week and over 30 minutes each time. Running, cycling, badminton, swimming and basketball are among the most popular fitness activities.

Still, officials see ways to improve the city’s sports scene, including building new sports facilities in downtown areas.

According to the sports bureau, Shanghai residents have an average of 1.83 square meters of sporting-space per person citywide. Though this is above the national average, the city lags behind several other areas.

In Beijing, citizens had an average of 2.25 square-meters of sporting ground per person in 2016. In provinces like Jiangsu and Guangdong, the averages surpassed 2 square-meters per person.

“In downtown Shanghai, the average is no higher than 1 square-meter per person,” said Zhao Guangsheng, deputy director of Shanghai Sports Bureau. “Also, outdoor venues take up the most space, while neighborhood fitness centers and arenas are not meeting demand.”

According to Zhao, some local sports venues suffer from management problems, while certain neighborhood fitness centers are becoming too old to be usable.

“Citizens also need more professional instruction in their daily sports activities, as well as nutritional knowledge,” added Zhao.

In a media briefing earlier this year, Xu Bin, Director of Shanghai Sports Bureau said the city plans to build more roof-top sporting grounds and small-scale fitness facilities. According to Xu, every resident should be able to reach a sports venue within 15 minutes.

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