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AusPlay survey advises that 81% of Australian adults participate in sport at least once a week

AusPlay survey advises that 81% of Australian adults participate in sport at least once a week
October 30, 2019

Sport Australia's latest AusPlay survey has revealed figures that show an extraordinarily high level of participation in sport and physical activity with 81% of adults - 17,979,684 people - saying they participate in sport at least once a week.

Released today, the latest AusPlay survey - results covering data collected between October 2015 and June 2019 - reports that 21,445,651 of Australia's population of 24,880,913 (89.2%) say they participate in sport at least once a year.

Breaking down the figures, which are self-reported by participants, shows that 17,979,684 of adults (defined as those aged 15 and above) are active once a week while 73.4% of children (3,465,967 people) are reported as participating in sport at least once a week.

Among young adults, those aged 15 to 19 years, the report advises of 94.7% participation while 85.4% of those aged 65 and over are also playing sport and being physically active.

Other key findings were that 58% of the adult population participate through an organisation or venue and that 22% of the population participate through a sports club or association.

Top activities were recreational walking - 43.4%, fitness and gym activities - 33.9%, jogging and running - 15.5%, swimming - 15%, cycling 11.5%, bushwalking - 5.7%, football - 5.5%, golf - 4.8%, yoga - 4.8% and tennis - 4.5%.

Making a related comment on activity when speaking yesterday at the 2019 Parks and Leisure Australia National Conference, Sport Australia Chief Executive, Kate Palmer stated “participation in organised sport is decreasing, physical activity is on the rise”

On a less positive note, the AusPlay data also shows that 36% girls in Australia, or one in three, are dropping out of sport by the age of 18, primarily due to debilitating peer pressure to look good and body image issues.

Sport Australia released the first results from AusPlay in December 2016 and has continued to collect data on the number of people participating in sport and physical activity and how they participate.

However, the self-reporting system of data collection has been questioned and, tellingly, this latest release of data has not been accompanied by a press release or Ministerial statement that might have been expected to accompany such seemingly encouraging finding.

Australasian Leisure Management Publisher, Nigel Benton suggests "these figures are very different to others which show a national crisis of inactivity so I am sure the industry would value consistency and clarity in data reporting and gathering.

"With sports including AFL and Cricket Australia having previously been caught out for exaggerating participation data, it may be that AusPlay’s self-reporting data collection is seeing people exaggerate their activity levels.

“It is quite possible that the data may well include aspirations to be active or some people thinking that watching sport on TV or a mobile device counts as participation.”

Sport Australia released the first results from AusPlay on 8th December 2016 for data collected from October 2015 to September 2016. This release filled a major data gap for the sport sector, which had been without national participation estimates since 2014 when the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) ceased all sport and recreation data collection.

Click here to view the AusPlay data visualisations.

The AusPlay homepage can be viewed at

Image: Walking football. Courtesy of Football Victoria.

Article amended 8th December 2019. Changes include the headline, which previously read 'AusPlay survey advises that 89% of Australian adults participate in sport at least once a week'. As corrected, that figure is 81%, with 89% of Australian adults participating in sport at least once a year.

Related Articles

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28th October 2019 - Kate Palmer to step down from Sport Australia Chief Executive role

16th October 2019 - Fitness Australia endorses Sport Australia’s Position Statement on Physical Literacy

15th October 2019 - Sport Australia releases Position Statement on Physical Literacy

5th August 2019 - Sport Australia releases Corporate Plan to guide increases in participation in sport and physical activity

23rd July 2019 - Cricket Australia exposed for exaggerating participation figures

13th May 2019 - Sport Australia misses opportunity at remarkable SportAccord Gold Coast

3rd May 2019 - AusPlay survey shows gymnastics as the fastest growing sport in Victoria

30th April 2019 - Fitness Australia Chief Executive queries ‘self-reported participation rates’ in Ausplay Report

30th April 2019 - Latest Ausplay survey shows gradual increase in physical activity

13th April 2019 - Sport Australia Chief Executive backs Fitness Australia’s new physically activity goals

25th February 2019 - Sport Australia launches second phase of ‘Move It AUS’ campaign

14th January 2019 - Sport Australia’s Kate Palmer says schools are critical to solving nation’s inactivity crisis

22nd November 2017 - AusPlay data shows increasingly active women chose fitness activities ahead of organised sport

17th November 2017 - New AusPlay figures show football leads sport participation rates in Australia

8th December 2016 - Landmark study finds sport struggling to keep youth engaged

4th January 2016 - AFL claims massive growth in participation in 2015

19th February 2015 - ABS notes declining sport and physical recreation participation

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