Despite anecdotal evidence that Australians were more active during the first wave of COVID-19 restrictions, a Monash University study has revealed that the majority of Australians didn’t meet suggested physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines.
Research enterprise BehaviourWorks Australia, part of the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, conducted a survey into physical activity and sedentary behaviour during the Coronavirus pandemic with 1,084 adults in April this year.
The findings, published in the paper Physical activity and sedentary behaviour during the COVID-19 pandemic: An Australian population study, found that, as COVID-19 closed gyms and halted community sport and recreation activities - forcing Australians to stay home - 70% of adults didn’t meet the aerobic components of the Australian Government physical activity guidelines and 60% didn’t meet the strength components.
Breaking down age and gender, the survey found that young adults participated in more strength activities than older adults with researchers believing that online home exercise classes may be more accessible to younger adults who are proficient with computers and the internet.
In addition, males were found to be slightly more active than females and, alarmingly, that one in five Australians did not participate in any physical activity such as walking or cycling.
The study also found adults spent more time sedentary than in studies conducted outside of the pandemic, with respondents aged 18-29 the most sedentary and those aged 60-69 being the least sedentary.
Food delivery services and the proliferation of television and movie streaming options are being attributed to the increase in sedentary behaviour among young people.
The study also revealed fewer respondents from regional Australia met the aerobic and strength guidelines compared to city dwellers, but did participate in less sedentary behaviour.
Researchers believed this could be due to occupational differences and the ability to better social distance in non-urban areas, allowing for participation in more activities outside of the home.
Lead author Dr Brea Kunstler, who is also a qualified physiotherapist, said the results weren’t surprising, but they were useful to help authorities communicate the importance of moving.
Dr Kunstler advised “Australian adults rarely meet physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines. It is to be expected that meeting the guidelines could be more difficult during a pandemic but that’s not to say it should be accepted.”
Dr Kunstler said Melbourne’s recent surge of cases and the return of lockdowns shouldn’t deter people from exercising, for the sake of their physical and mental health, adding “those of us in Stage 3 restrictions can still leave the house for exercise, and for the rest of Australia that has had eased restrictions, increasing physical activity and decreasing sedentary behaviours should be a priority to protect our mental and physical health during a challenging time for health globally.
“We need to remember that poor health behaviours now can negatively affect our habits and general health in the future.”
The Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines are set by the Australian Government and encourage Australian adults aged 18-64 years to participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity as well as two sessions of muscle strengthening activities weekly.
Research has also suggested that adults should spend less than nine hours being sedentary each day to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
These results formed part of the second wave of Australian data collected in the Survey of COVID-19 Responses to Understand Behaviour (SCRUB), with BehaviourWorks leading the Australian chapter of the global SCRUB project.
7th July 2020 - World Athletics looks to broaden mass participation reach
3rd July 2020 - Free Fitness Tutorials launched to accompany Darwin’s new outdoor exercise stations
1st July 2020 - Temperature screening system launched to help safeguard sports and fitness clubs against COVID-19 transmission
19th June 2020 - Mass participation sporting event industry highlights $1.1 billion Coronavirus impact
15th June 2020 - Fitness Australia calls for national consistency in state government gym reopenings
4th June 2020 - Industry plan prompts Queensland Government to allow fitness clubs to operate with more than 20 exercisers
19th May 2020 - ESSA highlights the importance of movement this Exercise Right Week
12th May 2020 - Exercise industry ready for Alert Level two but not business as usual
8th May 2020 - Fitness Australia welcomes Federal Government’s Coronavirus relaxations that focus on importance of exercise
4th May 2020 - Australians’ physical activity declines during Coronavirus lockdown
23rd April 2020 - Belgravia Leisure Re-engages over 20 Exercise Physiologists for new Telehealth service
20th April 2020 - Randwick Council amends Coronavirus closures to make beaches available for exercise
7th April 2020 - Two-thirds of the world’s fitness clubs are currently closed
31st March 2020 - With clubs closed fitness providers go online
11th March 2020 - Female participation in football reaches record levels in Australia
26th April 2019 - Election trail sees another announcement on funding for Monash University sport and medical research hub
28th December 2018 - Monash Sport becomes the first university gym in Australia to gain Quality Accreditation
Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?
The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.
However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.
Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.
Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.
Click here to subscribe.