Adult fitness level up slightly, says national survey, but there's still a long way to go
Updated: 2014-08-07 06:59
By Sun Xiaochen (China Daily)
Middle school students in Yuncheng, Shanxi province, learn kickboxing from a coach during summer vacation. Photo by Gao Xinsheng / For China Daily
A survey released on Wednesday said the average fitness level of Chinese adults is improving slightly after years of decline, but experts say the country has a long way to go, citing the absence of consistent high-intensity exercise.
Chinese adults are exercising more and their athletic ability has improved slightly over the past year, according to the national fitness survey by the General Administration of Sport of China.
The survey, which analyzed data from 90,929 people from 10 provinces and municipalities, found that 50.5 percent of Chinese aged 20 to 69 have exercised over the past year, reflecting a 1.3 percent year-on-year increase.
According to the national fitness standard, which grades fitness statuses into four levels by assessing body shape, physical function and athletic ability, 13.8 percent of the respondents aged 20 to 69 years reached the highest "excellent" level, a 0.6-percent increase over the same period last year.
The ratio of people who achieved "excellent" among the 20-to-39 age group has increased by 1.6 percentage points since last year.
The survey also revealed that the obesity rate among Chinese, which had been increasing since 2005, has declined since 2013.
Only 13.6 percent of males and 10.1 percent of females surveyed were found to be obese, marking a decline of 1.2 percent for men and 0.4 percent for women.
"The increase in people making higher fitness levels and the drop in the obesity rate indicated that the average fitness and athletic ability of the Chinese public are making progress," said Tian Ye, director of the China Institute of Sports Science, when announcing the survey results on Wednesday.
"Although the improvement seems very slight, it is significant as it shows that the decline of public fitness has been contained and started to increase for the first time over the past decade."
The growing public awareness of exercise's importance and the population's participation in mass fitness activities should get credit for the increase, Tian said.
The survey said that the number of urban and rural citizens who regularly jog as their main exercise increased 2.7 percent, while people's annual spending on exercise and sports goods increased to 645 yuan ($105) from 593 yuan in 2007.
Still, public health experts cautioned against an overly optimistic outlook, citing the low number of consistent exercisers.
"The survey was a good sign but shouldn't be considered proof that the fitness level of Chinese people is very high," Jiang Chongmin, director of the mass sports research center of GASC, said.
Among Chinese aged 6 to 69, only 31.2 percent participate in middle-intensity exercise three times a week. That figure is less than it is in Western countries, Jiang said.
Xing Wenhua, a mass fitness professor at Beijing Sport University, echoed Jiang's sentiment, saying that taking exercise is far from being a daily routine for Chinese people.