First step on the path to health
Updated: 2013-08-09 08:25
By Cheng Yingqi (China Daily)
Beijing's trails offer residents and visitors a sporting chance to stay healthy
Wang Wenqing has lived a subdued existence since he was laid off at the age of 50, but regained his zest for life thanks to an activity that is enjoying increasing popularity in Beijing - hiking.
"When I was kicked out of the work, I stayed home every day, watching TV or playing mahjong," Wang, now 61, said.
After more than a year, Wang realized the toll this was taking on his health. He took a step forward and decided to give hiking a go.
"Now I feel 20 years younger," he said. "I don't feel cold in the winter, even in shorts and a shirt."
Beijing became a member city of the IML Walking Association this year, which will host an international hiking event in the city's Mentougou district on Sept 14 and 15.
The event attracts not only residents, but also hiking enthusiasts and professionals from more than 40 countries and regions, according to organizers.
The Beijing International Walking Festival, jointly hosted by the Beijing Bureau of Sports, Mentougou authorities, the Beijing Sports Federation and the Beijing NGO Association for International Exchanges, has been a major event since 2010.
Liu Yuxi, 18, took part last year.
"More than 20,000 people participated, it was so cool," she said.
For Liu, an important reason for hiking's growing popularity is the atmosphere. "Hiking gives me a chance to meet people, and most are fans of the outdoors like me," she said.
One of the most impressive people she met was a 10-year-old girl who managed to complete a hike of more than 100 km in the Gobi desert, on the Tibetan Plateau.
For others, like Ben Chaston, 44, from Britain, hiking does not mean tough conditions, but being outside in beautiful scenery.
He has been hiking since he came to Beijing six years ago. He runs four times a week, and hikes about twice a month.
"Hiking is popular in my office, so normally I go hiking with friends from work," he said.
Chaston and his friends usually hike the Great Wall and other tourist sites in Beijing.
They also hike in other cities, such as Shanghai and Hong Kong. "I enjoy the scenery and chatting with people I meet," he said.
Jin Haixing and Yan Ran contributed to this story.