The promotion of sport activities has increasingly improved the national physique and health level. People are living longer than before. The old saying "it is rare for a person to live to the age of seventy" has become obsolete since to reach that age is now commonplace. Between 1990 and 2002 the average life expectancy of China's population increased by 3.25 years, reaching 71.8 years, approaching the level of moderately developed countries.
In order to monitor the national physique, the government implemented major investigations on the physique of students in 1979 and of adults in 1993, obtaining a wealth of detailed information from this research. The latest survey of the national physique, which ended in October 2001, extended over three years and 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government, making it China's largest ever in terms of scale and population numbers. The survey showed a great increase in the growth of children and teenagers in China's rural areas, every index showing an average rate of increase surpassing that of same age group children in the cities. But the survey also revealed some grounds for concern. Chinese people's physical faculties drop sharply after they turn 40. In cities obesity poses a big threat to the health of children and teenagers, and overweight is also very common among adults. The health of women in rural areas is far from satisfactory. Based on the survey findings, relevant departments of the government continuously study methods of keeping fit, set new ways and standards for different age groups and strengthen instruction at community level. The next survey of the national physique will be completed in 2005.