Mon, 2018-05-07 00:50
JEDDAH: Increasing numbers of Saudi citizens are embracing sports and exercise and trying to get healthy, research shows.
In 2015 the General Sport Authority (GSA) conducted the first National Sports Survey and defined active people who participate in sports as “individuals who engage in a specific type of physical activity i.e. planned, structured, and repetitive for the main purpose of improving health and maintaining fitness, at least once a week.”
The survey showed that only 13 percent of Saudi citizens aged over 15 exercise at least once a week. Those findings were a wake-up call for the Kingdom and helped shape aggressive targets to support mass participation that were set in stone within the Vision 2030 plan.
In the first quarter of 2018, another National Sports Survey was carried out under the same conditions and using the same methods, tracking sporting participation at all levels, from those taking up walking a few times a week to improve their health or amateurs beginning to attend weekly classes or clubs to hardcore gym enthusiasts and committed sportspeople.
The previous figure of 13 percent has now increased to 23 percent, helping the GSA beat its interim Vision 2030 target of getting 20 percent of Saudis over 15 exercising by 2020.
The GSA established the Mass Participation Federation, which is the main body responsible for increasing participation in sports in the Kingdom.
Turki Al-Shaikh, the chairman of the GSA, said: “Thanks to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmans continuous support to the sport sector in the Kingdom, this achievement was possible.”
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, vice chairman of the GSA, said: “This result is a huge motivator for us to work even harder. These efforts have generated a positive reaction from the people of Saudi Arabia to improve the quality of their lives.”
Princess Reema bint Bander, president of the Mass Participation Federation, said: “The improvements reflect the societal changes in culture and attitudes led by the Vision 2030 transformation and the support of Saudi women, as a lot of women are now more open to engaging in exercising and physical activity.
“Its important to recognize that this is a family movement. Men and women, boys and girls, young and old, are responding and are proving, as we believe at the GSA, that sport is for all.”
Saudi Arabias exercise levels have also been tracked in a separate research published by Saudi Arabias General Authority for Statistics. It found that 16.5 percent of Saudis aged over 15 are active for at least 150 minutes per week.
Princess Reema said: “Its promising that two separate and complementary pieces of important research show that Saudi Arabia is on the move. It is welcome news, but this isnt mission accomplished, its the proof point to our work.”
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