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More children trying sport, but desired activity levels still not being met

More children trying sport, but desired activity levels still not being met
May 12, 2018

More children have participated in sport over the past 12 months, but the vast majority are still not meeting recommended activity levels, according to the Australian Sports Commission (ASC).

The ASC’s latest AusPlay research - Children’s Participation in Organised Physical Activity Outside of School Hours - shows participation for Australian kids aged under 15 is on the rise overall. A total 74% of children participated at least once in organised sport or physical activity outside school hours in 2017, a jump of 4% from the previous year.

While only 25% of Australian children are participating in these activities at least three times a week, although that too is up from 20% in 2016.

Commenting on the findings, ASC Chief Executive Kate Palmer advised “it’s encouraging to see more kids sampling sport and physical activity, but the reality is fewer than 20% are meeting daily recommendations for activity.

“Australia’s obesity crisis is well known, so sport and physical can play a role in helping address that. Sport and physical activity is also integral to the holistic development of children physically, mentally and socially.

“Every Australian child deserves the opportunity to participate in sport and physical activity so it’s important we continue to identify and reduce barriers.”

The study shows that peak participation for children occurs between the ages of nine and 11, but falls in the 12 to 14 age bracket. The top two barriers at this age, as cited by parents, are that children don’t like physical activity (37%) and it’s not a priority (18%).

Cost can present a barrier to participation, with 84% of children from high income families engaged in organised physical activity compared to 58% from low income families. Children in major cities (76%) are also more likely to participate than children from regional areas (69%).

Palmer pointed out the influence parents can have on their child’s activity levels. While parents spend approximately $2.1 billion a year on children’s participation in sport and physical activity, spending time on their own activity could have a big impact. Figures show 75% of children who have at least one active parent participate in sport and physical activity outside school hours, compared to 56% of children with at least one inactive parent.

She added “parents often sacrifice their own time for physical activity because they’re dedicated to the best interests of their kids, but this data clearly shows a child’s greatest sporting role model is often their mum or dad. A child with an active parent is much more likely to be active themselves. If a parent can find time for their own activity, they’ll be positively influencing their child’s activity levels too.

“Sport and physical activity is an extremely valuable investment in young lives.”

Swimming is the most popular sport for boys (29.8%) and girls (33.9%), while in team sports, football is most popular with boys (21.9%) and netball for girls (13.3%).

While this data focused on organised activity outside school hours, Palmer said the ASC would continue to work with sports and the education sector to re-emphasise sport in schools.

Palmer concluded “the ASC has been able to positively contribute to activity during school hours by managing the national Sporting Schools program, which has funded more than 6,500 primary schools to sample from more than 30 sports since its inception in 2015.”

“It’s vital the sport sector works together to ensure fair access to physical activity for all Australians so that everyone can share in the enormous benefits it brings.”

The AusPlay survey commenced in 2015 and is the largest and most comprehensive survey of its kind conducted in Australia.

Click here to view the latest report Children’s Participation in Organised Physical Activity Outside of School Hours.

Click here for more information on the AusPlay initiative. 

Image: Junior swimming carnival at the Melbourne Sport and Aquatic Centre.

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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.

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