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Age shall not weary him

By Wu Ni in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2014-02-09 08:38

Age shall not weary him

Xue Shaokang developed the habit of running in 1946 and has kept it ever since. Gao Erqiang / China Daily

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For Xue Shaokang, a 97-year-old retired teacher in Shanghai, the secret for a long and healthy life is running - he has kept the daily exercise for 68 years.

"People always ask what I eat (to keep fit). Actually there is nothing special with my diet. The only thing I stick to is running," says the thin, clear-minded old man, with a trace of the accent of his hometown in Wujiang city, Jiangsu province.

Xue lives in a narrow apartment with his 91-year-old wife Yang Lelan in the city's Xuhui district. The old building does not have an elevator. But he climbs up to their fourth-floor apartment without too much panting, which he attributes to the benefit of running.

Every day around 3:30 am, when the whole city is still sleeping, Xue gets up to prepare for his routine exercise. He brushes his teeth, boils a pot of water, and cooks a large bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.

Then Xue steps out of the house. The wind is chilly in the early morning in late January, the coldest season in the city. But Xue only wears a sport coat. He practices a set of radio calisthenics and several warm-up movements for about 20 minutes.

"The warm-up is vital in running, especially for old runners. Imagine your body is a machine, the warm-up helps it run at a progressive pace," he explains.

At around 5 am, Xue starts up. And it is still dark. He jogs along the street, keeping a speed of about 12 minutes per kilometer. "I should be careful with the road. At my age, a tumble would be deadly," he says.

Cars occasionally roar past. Xue considers these four-wheel steel creatures "the biggest danger on the road as they sometimes ignore the traffic lights". Xue himself seldom travels in automobiles - as he gets car-sick.

The happiest part of his morning running is to meet other runners on the road, some in their 70s or 80s. He also enjoys running with university students at the playground of Shanghai Medical College of Fudan University near his house.

"I run for fun, never for competing or challenging limits," he says. Now, he runs about three or four kilometers every day.

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