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Report shows few Australians of all ages meeting physical activity guidelines

Report shows few Australians of all ages meeting physical activity guidelines
July 20, 2018

A new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIWH) reveals that, across all ages, few Australians meet recommended physical activity guidelines.

Released today, Physical activity across the life stages shows that, overall, only 30% of children aged between two and 17 years and 44% of adults meet guidelines that call for adults aged between 18 to 64 years to undertake at least 150 minutes of activity a week over five sessions and children/youth aged five to 17 years to be active for at least 60 minutes per day.

The Federal Government agency advise that children aged between two and five years were most likely to meet the guidelines (61%) while children aged 13 to 17 years were least likely to meet the guideline (7.9%).

Meeting the guideline decreased with increasing age for both children and adults, with among those aged between 18 and 64 years, fewer than one in four (24%) meet the strength-based activity guideline while less than one in five (19%) met both the physical and strength-based activity guidelines.

AIWH highlight that participating in regular physical activity and limiting the amount of time being sedentary can have significant health benefits - it reduces the risk of chronic conditions and other disease risk factors such as overweight and obesity, and also improves social and emotional health and wellbeing.

The Institute advise that “while there are many opportunities to be physically active every day, our social, environmental and cultural context - as well as the settings in which we live, work and play - are important determinants of physical activity participation.”

Physical activity across the life stages identifies that four in 10 adults reported “not enough time or too many other commitments” as the main barriers to participating in sport or recreational physical activities.

As age increased, “poor health” or injury was more frequently cited as the main barrier.

It also identified that participation rates varied across socioeconomic groups, particularly among adults, with those in the highest socioeconomic group more likely to meet physical activity guideline, compared with those in the lowest socioeconomic group.

Indigenous children were also more active than non-Indigenous children

Encouraging Australians to participate in more physical activity, Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA) Chief Executive Anita Hobson-Powell commented “while opportunities exist to be physically active every day, our social and environmental settings in which we live, work and play can affect our participation levels and create barriers.”

Commenting on screen-based activity as being an ongoing barrier for children meeting physical activity guidelines, Hobson-Powell added “although a high percentage of children are exceeding the recommended amount of screen-based activity time, adolescent boys aged 13 - 17 were the least likely to meet these guidelines.

“This is despite participation in physical activity being similar between adolescent boys and girls as 85% of 13 17 year old boys did not meet this guideline, compared with 74% of adolescent girls.”

Key statistics from the Physical activity across the life stages report include:

• 30% of children aged two to 17 years and 44% of adults aged 18 and over met the physical activity guideline.
• More Indigenous children aged five to 17 year met the physical activity guideline than non-Indigenous children aged five to 17.
• Six in 10 (60%) Australians aged 18 to 64 in the highest socioeconomic group met the physical activity guideline, compared to only 37% in the lowest socioeconomic group.
• 48% of adults aged 18 to 64 met the physical activity guideline and 24% met the strength-based activity guideline.
• One in four (25%) adults aged 65 and over did 30 minutes of physical activity on five or more days.  

Physical activity across the life stages presents information on Australians’ physical and sedentary activity participation rates against the Guidelines. It presents information across different population groups, including by Indigenous status, remoteness, socioeconomic groups and sex, and considers the barriers to physical activity across the life stages.

Click here for more information.

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