HEFEI, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Over 500,000 people braved chilly winds to practice Wuqinxi, an ancient Chinese physical exercise mimicking the movements of five animals, on Wednesday in the city of Bozhou, east China's Anhui Province.
Participants from schools, communities and government organs gathered at the square of the city's stadium and practiced Wuqinxi for 20 minutes.
Students from more than 1,000 schools in the city staged a show practicing the exercise.
Wuqinxi, literally meaning Five-Animal Exercises, is a set of physical exercise accompanied by Qigong (breathing exercises). Practiced in China for 1,800 years, it is proved to improve a person's immune system and helps prevent illness.
As a Chinese legend goes, Wuqinxi was invented by Hua Tuo (145-208), one of the greatest doctors in Chinese history, based on his observations of tigers, deer, bears, apes, and birds in Bozhou, where he was born.
"The bear movements are good for the stomach and spleen. The tiger soothes pain in the waist and back. The deer movements can reduce fat around the waist, and the ape is good for cardiopulmonary functions. Bird movements can help prevent arthritis," explained Hua Yi, the 59th inheritor of Wuqinxi.
The practice of Wuqinxi was inscribed into China's list of national intangible cultural heritage in 2011. Since then, 5,600 instructors have helped train 1 million people to learn the exercise in the city.
Hua said Wuqinxi is "not only good for the body but also fun to watch." Inheritors have performed the health-promoting exercise in shows around the world. Martial arts enthusiasts from more than 10 countries came to Bozhou to learn Wuqinxi.