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2007 Survey of Exercise Habits of the Chinese Population

By Lan Jun Zhou, China

Seniors are the most physically active group in China, according to a survey by the General Administration of Sport of China (GASC).

The random home-visit survey, taken January 1 through April 30, 2008, and released in December 2008, questioned 88,625 non-institutionalized civilians older than age 16 about civilians’ exercise in 2007. The survey is the largest yet taken concerning exercise in China.

The standard of the survey was to ask respondents if they engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity, three days per week, excluding walking or cycling to work, and slow walking after dinner.

Seniors were the most physically active in the survey. Over 50% of respondents age 60+ exercise 5 days per week. By age group, the percentage of Chinese classified as participating in regular exercise ranged from the lowest (6.1% of those aged 30-39), to the highest (11.7% among those aged 60-69).

Other findings:

  • 28.8% of all the respondents met the standard, but if students are excluded, only 8.3% met the standard.
  • 13.1% of urban citizens met the standard as opposed to 4.1% for rural citizens.
  • 9.0% of men and 7.5% of women met the standard.
  • Brisk walking and jogging were reported as the favorite activities of 62.0% of regular exercisers. 72.8% of those aged 70+ prefer brisk walking.

The main aims listed for exercising were to increase physical activity (34.8%), for fun (26.8%), and for prevention and treatment of disease (18.9%). 46% of those aged 70+ listed prevention and treatment of disease as a goal for exercising.

The respondents reported that the main barriers to participating in exercise were lack of time (41.2%), lack of sports facilities (16.6%); lack of interest (13%).

45.5% of respondents aged 70+ participate in exercise alone. The percentage of respondents who do not receive assistance and instruction from instructors of physical activity is high among older adults: 50-59 years (73.2%), 60-69 years (72.5%), and 70+ (76.1%)

Mr. Zhi-Guo Sheng, director of the Department of Sport for All, said that because 28.8% of the respondents met the survey standard, Chinese adults are more active now than in 1996 (15.5% respondents of 1996 survey were regular exercisers, including students), according to GASC. Chinese adults, however, are still much less physically active than those of Japan, South Korea, the UK, and the United States. Mr. Sheng said that the GASC can use these data to develop public policy and strategies concerning exercise, and to define the goals of the Department of Sport for All.

For more information, go to Note: Web site is in Chinese.

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