HOHHOT, China, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Beating tambourines and dancing to delightful rhythms, 12 elderly women can be seen rehearsing a dance routine outdoors for a square dancing competition to be held in Hohhot, capital of northern China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
"The temperature is -10 degrees Celsius, but we feel warm and are full of energy when dancing," said Zhao Yiying, a 60-year-old resident of Hohhot. "Dancing properly is a way to battle the cold and helps us keep fit."
Square dancing, a form of group dancing in public squares, has become a popular exercise among the elderly in China.
It is estimated that more than 120 million Chinese people are regular participants in square dancing.
Hohhot, with a population of more than three million, has seen growing enthusiasm for square dances over the past few years.
Only 36 groups with about 300 dancers participanted in last year's contest, but more than 100 teams with 1,000 members will take part this year, organizers of Monday's local square dancing contest said.
Fan Fengying, 67, who used to sit watching TV most time of the day, noticed several benifits after she started attending a community dance group. She also succeeded in encouraging dozens of her neighbors and friends to dance with her every morning.
"Square dancing helps me lose weight, get rid of bad habits and create more chance to chat with others," Fan said.
However, due to insufficient public space and poor management, noise made by square dancers has led to several conflicts.
The local government has taken several measures to solve the problems. Urban authorities plan to construct more accessible exercise grounds, as laid out in their infrastructure development blueprint.
Many sub-district offices and community residents committees have renovated some of their work places into activity venues for dancers and other indoor sports fans.
Local officials have also sponored properties where elderly citizens can conduct dances, and give out awards to groups who were able to conduct their activities with minimal noise.
"We hope to bring delight to everyone through dancing, so we choose appropriate times and venues to dance," said Feng Xiuqing, a guide of the Hohhot Spring Square Dancing Group.