About 340 million people exercised regularly last year, with 250 million of them spending an average of 593 yuan ($88) on sport or sport-related activities.
A State General Administration of Sport survey released yesterday said a record 28.2 percent of the population spent more than 30 minutes on physical training at least three times a week.
The national survey shows health awareness among urban residents is much higher than rural people.
The percentage of those who exercise regularly among the 593 million urban residents is three times that of the figure among the 727 million people living in rural areas.
The authorities said the figures reflected the rising health awareness among urban residents after 2001, when Beijing won the right to host the 2008 Olympic Games.
"People are remarkably more aware about physical fitness and have become more active on physical training," said Sheng Zhiguo, head of Sports for All Department under the administration.
But the figures are still lower than those in many developed economies, which have tougher criteria to grade people undergoing regular physical exercise. The 2006 figure for the US shows 49 percent of its senior people spent more than 30 minutes doing physical exercise at least five days a week.
"Many people in China are short of time on fitness building because of pressure of daily work," Sheng said. "Another important reason is we don't have enough sport facilities."
The government announced its national fitness program in 1995 and has increased its spending on public sports facilities since then. But the lack of sport facilities is still a problem because only 14.8 percent of the people can find a public sport facility to do physical exercise.
"We are looking for more spending," Sheng said. "Besides, I think all the sport facilities in schools should be opened to the public."
The survey also shows the favorite physical exercise of the people is walking and/or jogging, followed by table tennis, badminton, basketball and tennis.