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Scenes from China: social healthy spaces

In China, almost all public parks and neighborhoods offer outdoors free gym equipment, which have led to a continuously active lifestyle, especially for the elderly.

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One of the most striking things about the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Qingdao, that I noticed in the past 7 months that I've lived in China are the number of the elderly - even in their 70's and 80's - who are active: strolling, playing chess on a street corner, and most often, using the free exercise equipment in the neighborhood parks.  

China's parks and neighborhoods always have two features: a playground and a number of self-sustaining exercise equipment - typically treadmills, elliptical machines, and a few stretching chairs.  

These equipment are a brilliant free way to promote health and an active outdoors community. What I've noticed is that often, the elderly also start forming other social activities - night-time dancing, group tae-chi exercises, chatting while eating snacks - around these spaces.  

Seeing the elderly enjoying these spaces speaks directly to the vibrancy of a city to me.  


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i also was struck by the popularity of outdoor equipment when travelling in china. While I myself could not imagine walking to a park to walk on a treadmill instead of walking through the park itself, it does seem like a great way to intensify use of pocket parks -- in places where there isn't really space to take a decent stroll through "nature".

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