|When dusk falls, the white-collar crowd laces up their sneakers and takes to the streets. (Photo/WCCDaily)|
China has an old saying that everything starts in the morning. Traditionally, the morning is also seen as the optimal time of day for exercise. Nowadays, though, it seems that everything could also start at night, especially for joggers.
Every night around 8 pm, Liu Changyu, 28, arrives at the south gate of Chaoyang Park in Chaoyang district. After warming up, he starts his one-hour run around the park.
"I sit in the office and work all day. If I want to get some exercise to energize myself, nighttime is practically the only option. Also, the air quality at night is better than during the day," Liu said.
Liu rarely jogs alone. He uses social networking to recruit fellow runners. "There are some 300 people in this QQ chat group. I often post my jogging route there in a bid to find company," said Liu. "Sometimes I have five to eight people jogging with me."
Night jogging is becoming a fad for young office workers. On QQ, WeChat and microblogs, there are dozens of running-themed chat groups where joggers seek company for runs around popular sites in the Olympic Park or Gulou areas. The comments echo Liu's enthusiasm for night jogging, saying that it gives them a good workout and helps with stress relief.
As the trend grows in popularity, so do the discussions about whether it's good for the health.
Wang Renwei, a professor at the Shanghai University of Sport, told Metropolitan that jogging at dusk is very good for the health because physical functionality is optimal and certain hormones are only secreted during that time of day. "This is the reason why major sports finals are scheduled for the evening and night," Wang said.
Wang added that air quality at night is better than at dawn or during rush hour in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, because of less traffic and the photosynthesis of green plants throughout the day.
"The best workout period is 9 am to 11 am and 2 pm to 9 pm. Because the morning period coincides with work hours for office workers, jogging at night is a healthy choice," Wang said.
However, not every expert agrees with Wang.
Feng Chonglian, a TCM doctor at the Third Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University, told the Guangzhou-based New Express last month that from a TCM perspective, night workouts diffuse too much yang qi, the "active energy" that is considered essential to life. Morning exercise is fine because yang qi peaks during the day.
As for those who have no choice but to work out at night, Feng suggests that they refrain from jogs after 9 pm and avoid windy places.
Liao Yuan, a 27-year-old woman who jogs to lose weight, said that she is still not sure whether night exercise is good for her; after a late workout, she often struggles to fall asleep and feels tired in the morning.
Although working out late in the day promotes blood circulation, overdoing it or exercising too late - after midnight, for example - can cause the body to be too fatigued or excited to sleep, Wang said.
Wang also suggested that joggers avoid the street in favor of residential areas or parks, to avoid automobile exhaust and the risk of traffic accidents. Otherwise, Wang said, the workout is more likely to increase stress on the body rather than help to release it.