Sports plays positive role in China's battle against virus outbreak

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BEIJING, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- When you are down, sports could be the way out.

At the beginning of the year 2020, it is just what many Chinese choose to do amid a nationwide effort to contain a new contagious disease.

After all, when the search for effective medicine is still going on, there seems no better way than sports to keep up the spirit and keep fit, both vital in the fight against the virus.

"I guess not many people have been stranded at home for so long, having so much spare time. This will sometimes cause anxiety and doing sports is the best way to shift focus and boost the immunity system," said Wuhan local Luo Yuansheng.

This year has been off to a sad start for millions of Chinese, including Luo, as the celebration of the all-important Chinese lunar new year was suddenly replaced by a battle against the novel coronavirus, a new virus causing pneumonia.

Whether in the epicenter in Wuhan, its surrounding cities in Hubei province or other parts of the country, people were suggested to stay at home to curb the spread of the virus while the government announced to extend the Chinese lunar new year holiday for one week.

Following the suggestion, Luo closed down his newly opened tennis training hall and hardly set foot out of his Wuhan home.

"It is the worst of time but I think it is also a chance for me to spend time with my family," said Luo. Besides half an hour of exercise every day, Luo practiced tennis with his daughter.

"All my family are tennis fans. Playing sports is especially good for children to build up their bodies and form strong characters," he said.

Luo's tennis hall is now closed for an indefinite time but he received two pieces of good news: the rent for his tennis hall will be reduced and none of his customers ask for a refund.

While nine million Wuhan residents are doing their part in a brave fight to contain the epidemic, people from other parts of the country also join in the effort.

The situation outside Hubei province is much better but most Chinese still choose to stay at home as much as possible.

"I start to understand why the dogs are so eager to go out," a net user joked on Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media after a few days of self-quarantine.

In this case, doing sports will surely be a good pastime.

Third-grader Zhang Yimeng in Shandong province was kept busy with his fencing training at home, holding a two-kilogram dumbbell to practice fencing moves.

"My son should have been at the training camp after the Spring Festival holiday. But his time at home is not wasted. He will do planks and push-ups every day," said Yimeng's father Zhang Kan.

In Dalian, Liaoning province, retired worker Shan Chao dropped his 10-year habit of shuttlecock kicking at the People's Square. He instead walked around in his flat and made push-ups.

"It is not that easy to change a long time habit but I try to adapt. The priority now is to beat the epidemic," Shan said.

For young people, they didn't stop at exercising on their own as they turn sports into a social activity on online platform.

Yunnan Open University staff Lu Kaiwen set up a WeChat group with over 60 members to participate in the online games.

Each member uploaded the videos of their exercises which included rope jumping, indoor golf, running, roller skating and even whack-a-mole.

"This is a very special Chinese New Year. We won't go out and don't want to just lie around everyday, so I think doing sports with friends through social media could be fun," said Lu.

"Everyone's life has been changed by the epidemic but what doesn't change is our pursuit for health," he said.

"We believe the epidemic will eventually be under control if all of us follow experts' suggestions," he added. Enditem (Wu Shuguang, Yue Ranran, Luo Xin, Jiang Cheng, Wang Qin'ou, Yao Youming, Cai Yongjun and Wang Hengzhi contributed to the story.)

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