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Regulation Helps Beijing People Keep Fit
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A new drive to promote sport and regular exercise among Beijingers begins today.

The Beijing Municipal All-people Fitness Regulation, approved by the capital's legislator towards the end of last year, aims to create a better environment and more facilities to help people live a healthier lifestyle.

June 23, the International Olympic Day, has also been set as Beijingers' Fitness Day as part of the initiative.

"All people, old and young, male and female, and including those disabled, should all be encouraged to take part in a sports activity," said Sun Kanglin, director of Beijing Municipal Bureau of Sport.

Among the new facilities to be created include those easily accessible for disabled people.

"To be healthy is the essential and most important need for human beings," said Tian Maijiu, a sports expert and deputy director of the standing committee of Beijing Municipal People's Congress.

Beijing had more than 5,000 sets of sports appliances and facilities in residential communities, major roadsides and villages by the end of 2005, with financial input surpassing 662 million yuan (US$83 million).

Yan Naxin, from the sports bureau, said small-scale fields for playing ball games are to be built near housing communities in parks and squares as part of the new initiative.

Profits from the local sports lottery will be channelled to help with construction costs.

It is estimated each field will cost about 200,000 yuan (US$25,000).

Investment from both individuals and companies, and from overseas firms, is welcome to create even more facilities, according to the regulation.

"Huge demand from young people pushed the small-scale fields plan," Yan said.

The construction of 30 basketball courts, 30 mini-fields for football and another 30 sites for table tennis have been written into the city's 11th Five-Year Guidelines (2006-10).

Sports chiefs in the city said there was a big need for the sites, especially for youngsters.

Current installed facilities on streets popular amongst older people and children are not as attractive to young adults and teenagers.

Residents in Beijing have welcomed the plan to create new sports facilities.

"It's really annoying to hear the frequent sound of balls being hit against my building's outside wall, and the shouts of young people, although I do appreciate their enthusiasm and skills very much," said Li Shi, from Xuanwu District.

The lack of adequate facilities leads many to play sports on commercial fields, or even on school sites.

Yan said only small fees were likely to be charged to use the new sports fields, to cover maintenance costs.

The ball games facilities installed in Chaoyang Park as a pilot scheme have proved a big success, with large groups of people using them, said Yan.

Developing a system to monitor and analyze the health of local people has also been included in the regulation.

A "health report" on Beijingers is to be released every five years.

The latest report, which focused on 20,000 people, is expected to be available in May.

Tan Jingjing, an expert with Beijing Municipal Sport Science Institute, said people's health is greatly influenced by their occupations.

Office clerks showed weak power in gripping and in their lower limbs, according to a study in 2000.

(China Daily March 1, 2006)

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