RIYADH — The initial findings from a pioneering survey by the Sports Boulevard have brought Riyadh's exercise trends into the spotlight. According to the Riyadh Sports Index, derived from a survey of 1,000 city residents, nearly half 49% of Riyadh's populace now engages in exercise at least twice weekly.

Set to be conducted biannually, the survey delved into Riyadh residents' sports and exercise habits, revealing a robust interest in fitness. Despite this enthusiasm, with 43% expressing a desire to exercise more, a significant 76% still believe they fall short in sports participation. Top barriers identified include time constraints 45%, weather challenges 39%, and high gym costs 36%. Notably, easier access to facilities could spur 18% of respondents to exercise more.

The survey also highlighted a notable disconnect between residents and sports facilities, with only 11% living within a kilometer of such amenities, and a mere 12% exercising within this range. A striking 52% reside more than 3km away from the nearest facility, leading 31% to resort to home workouts.

This data coincides with the development of the Sports Boulevard, an ambitious project poised to be the largest urban linear park globally. Spanning over 135km, it will feature an extensive network of pathways for various activities and over 50 new sporting facilities, significantly enhancing the city's sports infrastructure.

Popular sports in Riyadh include walking 63%, running 47%, and football 44%. The survey also uncovered that physical health (74%) and mental health (53%) benefits are the primary motivators for staying fit. Community engagement (28%) and competitive aspects (24%) are also significant drivers. National Saudi sports figures inspire 77% of respondents, with 32% following sports professionals on social media.

The Sports Boulevard, once completed, will offer an expansive green space and cater to over 50 sports disciplines, aligning with Riyadh's health-conscious demographic. It's part of Riyadh's mega projects initiated by King Salman on March 19, 2019, under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman. This project contributes to the Kingdom's Vision 2030, aiming to place Riyadh among the world's top 10 cities by 2030.

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