JINAN, July 31 (Xinhua) -- The age difference between a group of Tai Chi lovers in eastern China's Shandong Province reaches more than 80 years, with the eldest being 91 years old and the youngest only 7.
From 6:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. every morning, about 30 people gather in a small square of the provincial sports center in the city of Jinan, to practice Tai Chi.
"Tai Chi is a terrific exercise, helping me keep fit as I have stuck with it for about 65 years," said Hao Mingzhi, the 91-year-old Tai Chi lover.
Deeply rooted in Chinese meditation, medicine and martial arts, Tai Chi combines one's mental concentration with slow and controlled movements. It can help participants focus the mind, challenge the body and improve life energy.
"In the movements of Tai Chi, we can see Chinese philosophies such as courtesy, modesty and patience, as well as balancing hardness and softness," Hao said.
In 2006, Tai Chi was listed as one of China's first batch of intangible cultural heritage due to its rich cultural connotations and long history.
Since then, local authorities in Shandong have promoted the activity among aged people. By the end of last year, more than one million people in the province had been engaged in Tai Chi.
"Tai Chi can benefit people's mind and body. It is well received, especially among the elderly. Rich or poor, weak or strong, everybody can learn Tai Chi," said Cao Xuecheng, chairman of the Shandong Veteran's Sports Association.
Tai Chi has gradually become a mass activity in recent years as the country promotes traditional Chinese sports and activities to achieve fitness for all.
Earlier this month, the State Council, China's cabinet, issued a new guideline to implement the country's Healthy China initiative and promote people's health, which put forward the development of fitness programs with Chinese characteristics, including those of traditional sports such as Tai Chi and Health Qigong.
During China's 13th National Games in 2017, thousands of grassroots athletes participated in 19 sports categories, including Health Qigong, a traditional martial art aiming at exploiting the human body's inner energy to achieve physical and mental harmony.
Though participating in the activity for only several months, Zheng Zhujun, a 10-year-old Tai Chi lover, can already make standard movements.
"Tai Chi can help build my character, making me more patient," Zhang said.
In the past, most people participating in Tai Chi were the elderly, but now, more young people, such as office workers, are learning the sport, according to Hao Lei, a 57-year-old Tai Chi promoter.
"I hope that more people will learn and practice it to pass down the beneficial traditional Chinese martial art," Hao said.