Research and Statistics
There is strong consistent epidemiological evidence linking a wide range of important health and social benefits to participation in regular moderate-intensity physical activity.
The Department has commissioned a number of reviews of the scientific evidence in relation to physical activity to inform the development of physical activity guidelines for the Australian population. Reviews have been conducted in relation to physical activity for Children & Youth, Adults and Older Australians.
- Children and Youth - Discussion Paper for the Development of Recommendations for Children’s and Youths’ Participation in Health Enhancing Physical Activity
- Adults - Physical Activity Guidelines for Australians: Scientific Background Report
- Older Australians - National physical activity recommendations for older Australians: Discussion Document
Physical Activity Levels in Australia
AdultsThe National Physical Activity Guidelines for Australian Adults recommend putting together as least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on, preferably all, days.
According to the National Health Survey in 2007– 08, 65% of adults had exercised for recreation, sport or fitness during the two weeks prior to interview. The results from this survey relate only to exercise for sport, recreation or fitness, and therefore are not necessarily indicative of total physical activity; for example they could exclude physical activity at work and walking for transport. In addition, the survey results do not provide information on the number of people that meet the National Physical Activity Guidelines.
The 2007-08 National Health Survey found that:
- 72% of Australians aged 15 years and over were classified as sedentary or having low exercise levels. Of these, just under half (49%) recorded no or very little exercise in the previous two weeks (sedentary exercise level) and 51% recorded a low level of exercise.
- The proportion of people who were sedentary increased with age as outlined below:
- 23% of 15-17 year olds
- 29% of 18-24 years olds
- 30% of 24-34 year olds
- 35% of 35-44 years olds:
- 36% of 45-54 year olds:
- 37% of 55- 64 year olds:
- 40% of 65 -74 year olds;
- 57% of persons aged 75 and over.
- Less than one quarter (22%) of Australians were classified as exercising at a moderate level and 6% at a high level.
ChildrenThe Australian Physical Activity Recommendations for 5 to 18 year olds recommend at least 60 minutes of moderate and vigorous physical activity every day; and state that children should not spend more than two hours a day using electronic media for entertainment (eg computer games, TV, internet), particularly during daylight hours.
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The 2007 Australian National Children’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey found that:
- Moderate to vigorous physical activity:
- Approximately 69 per cent of surveyed boys and girls aged 9–16 met the National Physical Activity Recommendations by accumulating at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most of the days surveyed.
- On average, boys aged 9–16 years reported 142 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per day, while girls aged 9–16 years averaged 112 minutes of MVPA per day.
- The average time spent doing moderate to vigorous physical activity decreased with age.
- Screen time:
- Participation in screen-based activities peaked in children aged 13–14 years, where screen time varied from 3.5 hours in girls to over 4 hours in boys.
- Screen time primarily consisted of television viewing (approximately 2.5 hours for both boys and girls).
- 33 per cent of the children aged 9–16 years met the recommendations for screen time in the National Physical Activity Recommendations (no more than two hours of non-educational screen time each day).
The Australian Health SurveyIn 2011-12 a representative sample of 50,000 Australians will be asked to complete the Australian Health Survey - the most comprehensive collection of health data ever undertaken.
Participants will be asked about any diagnosed health problems they have, the medications and medical services that they use, and new questions about lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity.
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