According to a recent survey by the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports, 53.5 percent of the Spanish citizens aged 15 or more have participated in sport over the last 12 months. This percentage, which includes both regular and occasional participants, represents a 9.2 percent increase since the previous survey in 2010. The rise over the last 12 months has been especially strong among women, with a 13.3 percent increase. Participation rates are still higher among men but the gender gap is now down to only 8 percentage points, with a 47.5 percent participation rate among women versus 59.8 percent among men.

In terms of frequency, physical activity is a daily habit for 19.5 percent while 46.2 percent take part in physical activity at least once a week. The vast majority of the active population, namely 79 percent, engage in a variety of sports while 21 percent choose to focus on one type of sport only. Women tend to opt for variety more frequently than men, with 26.4 percent versus 16.6 percent, respectively.

Cycling tops the ranking and is chosen by 38.7 percent of active citizens, followed by swimming at 38.5 percent, hiking and mountaineering at 31.9 percent, and running at 30.4 percent. Football attracts 22.4 percent of the active citizens in the country.

Most of the active citizens in Spain (68.2 percent) start taking part in sports before the age of 15, while 19.1 percent start between 15 and 24 years of age, 9.1 percent between 25 and 44, and only 3.7 percent after turning 45.

Passive participation - as spectators at sports events - has involved 37.1 percent of the population under scrutiny for the purposes of the survey over the last 12 months, with a 46.5 percent rate among men versus a 28.2 percent rate among women. The number of sports spectators is higher in the 15-24 age group, where it exceeds 50 percent, and then goes down until it reaches 9.1 percent only among the over 75s.

The news media play a key role in the picture, with 61.7 percent of the research sample having got sports information from the media during the last 12 months, and 95.4 percent of them having done so more than once a week. The web is used to get sports information by 44.8 percent of those who get sports news through the media. The mobile is used by 27.9 percent, the tablet by 23.6 percent and social media are used for this purpose by 23.6 percent.

The main motivation that has emerged from the survey for sport and exercise is being fit, which has been the answer for 29.9 percent of the research sample, followed by fun and entertainment at 23 percent. In contrast, the lack of time has been pointed to by 43.8 percent as the main reason for not taking part in physical activity, followed by lack of interest at 20 percent. Health problems were mentioned by 11.9 percent of the research sample, followed by aging at 9.9 percent. As negative factors, health and age become more relevant among the over 55s.