Beijing brings back mandatory exercise program

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AFP reports today that thousands of Beijing workers are, once again, performing twice-daily calisthenics routines to music from the state radio. The group exercise program — which, it seems, will be mandatory for all state-company employees starting next year — originally began in 1951. But it was then ditched three years ago in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, due to other, presumably more pressing radio-programming demands. Now, as of this past Monday, the radio is back to running eight-minute calisthenics programs twice a day, at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Authorities cite the health benefits and improvements in work efficiency that come from regular exercise, and hope that some 4 million Beijing workers will participate in the group sessions. “It was a little bit weird at first,” a 24-year-old named Yan told China Daily, “but having done the exercises I feel they are a sort of relaxation period during my work.” What else can the guy say?