While we in the Western world are bombarded with every exercise aid available but not use them, berate ourselves for our lifestyles and have doctors barking at us that we don’t do enough to look after ourselves the Chinese just get on and fix the problem.

The Guardian reports that Beijing has now reintroduced its daily programme of mandatory calisthenics after a three year break in the hope of re-igniting the fitness flame that was sparked in 1951 when it started.

It is hoped that up to four million Beijing workers will join in the twice a day eight minute rituals at 10 am and 3 pm supported by radio-borne music.

There are doubts though over how the younger generation will feel about this and if employers will allow people the time off.

The goal it seems is to fend off the dangers of the more sedentary lifestyle of modern China and involve 60% of private workers and 70% of state workers by 2011.

We could try this in the UK but one suspects that the eight minute exercise slot would become an extended smoke or tea break. Hordes of workers claiming that they should have the same time off even if they don’t exercise, all huddling round the coffee machines and smoke areas with those that are left too embarrassed to exercise even if they wanted to.

Well, it seems the western attitude has also infected China. According to the Guardian report even the Beijing Bureau of Sports considered itself too busy preparing for a martial arts contest to participate.

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