A survey conducted by the Sports Administration has shown that 31.3 percent of Taiwan’s population regularly do sports or exercise, with the gap between the percentage of regular male and female exercisers falling from 11.2 percent last year to 8.6 percent this year.
The agency defines regular exercise as playing sports or working out at least three times a week, with each session lasting at least 30 minutes. The ideal intensity of the physical activity will cause the person’s heart rate to increase to 130 beats per minute and result in sweating or panting.
The telephone survey was conducted by Shih Hsin University from Oct. 5 to Nov. 20, and collected 25,098 valid samples.
The results showed that 82.1 percent of respondents engage in sports or exercise in any frequency, which is only 0.1 percent higher than last year.
However, the proportion of those doing so regularly rose from 30.4 percent 31.3 percent in the same period. Of the 31.3 percent, 88 percent indicated that they have been in the habit for more than six months.
Between 2006 and this year, the amount of people in this category increased steadily from 18.8 percent to 31.3 percent, the survey found.
This year’s results showed that 35.6 percent of men exercise regularly, whereas just 27 percent of women do so. Last year, those figures were 36 percent for men and 24.8 percent for women.
For both males and females, the proportion of people undertaking regular exercise are high in the 13-to-24-year-old age group, as well as among those who are 70 or older. People who are between 35 and 44 years old are the least likely to be exercising regularly.
While the survey showed significant growth in the amount of regular female exercisers, it also showed that the percentage of women who do not do so is still higher than that of men, particularly for women who are between 25 and 39.
When asked why they exercise, approximately 72 percent of respondents said they do it to be healthy, 16 percent said they do it to stay in shape, while 12 percent said they exercise for fun.
About 50 percent of respondents who said they do not exercise said they do not have the time to do it, with 22.1 percent saying they are too tired after work and 19.6 percent confessing they are just lazy.
Eva Hsiao (蕭嘉惠), a professor at National Taipei University, that the growth in the number of women exercising regularly shows that women are becoming more independent.
She also attributed the rise to successful sports marketing campaigns targeting women and changing attitudes toward female athleticism.