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Walking, swimming and fitness training top list of Australians’ physical activities

Walking, swimming and fitness training top list of Australians’ physical activities
May 14, 2018

Walking for exercise is the most popular sport or activity which Australians regularly participate in according to the latest National Sports Participation report from Roy Morgan.

Released today, the report found that nearly half of adult Australians, or 47.9%, regularly go for a vigorous stroll. This is an increase of around 800,000 participants, since 2014.

Combining data for the year to December 2017 from the Single Source survey of Australians aged 14+ and the Young Australians survey of children aged six to 13 years shows the next most popular activity is swimming with 14% of Australians six years or older swimming regularly.

Over 1.2 million Australians aged six to 13 and more than 1.9 million adults now swim.

Going to the gym/weight training is Australia’s third most popular sporting activity with over three million adult Australians regularly participating (questions on ‘walking’ and ‘gym/weight training’ were only asked of adults).

The report also found that just under 10% of Australians regularly go cycling while football is Australia’s most widely played team sport with 7.8% of Australians playing regularly.

Nearly half of children aged six to 13 regularly go swimming (47.7%) or play football (45.7%). These leading sports are followed in popularity by cycling (37.4%), basketball (33%), athletics/track & field (31.7%) and dancing (29.2%). Just under a quarter of kids play cricket regularly (23.5%) and just over a fifth play netball (21.6%) or do gymnastics (20.7%).

Top 20 Sports and Activities by regular participation rate

Sources: Roy Morgan Single Source, January 2017 – December 2017, sample n = 15,169 Australians aged 14+; Roy Morgan Young Australians Survey, January 2017 – December 2017, sample n = 2,563 Australians aged 6-13.*Sports marked with an (A) were only asked of Australians aged 14 and over and (K) were only asked of children aged six to 13.

The report shows that Australian children are far more likely to participate regularly in sporting activities than older Australians and are nearly five times as likely to swim regularly and over six times as likely to cycle. The starkest difference is for regular participation in football for which kids are over 15 times more likely to play than adults.

In an explanatory note, Roy Morgan explain that “a glance at the table shows there are several sports and activities with high regular participation for adults that don’t appear for kids. Marked (A) are sports and activities we ask only for those aged 14 and over as part of the Single Source survey include walking for exercise, gym/weight training, jogging, yoga, fishing, pilates, golf, marathons/running and pool/snooker/billiards.”

Commenting on the findings, Roy Morgan Chief Executive Michele Levine stated “nearly half of Australian adults regularly go walking for exercise. The activity ranks far ahead of swimming and gym/weight training as activities Australians undertake to maintain their fitness.

“In fact walking for exercise has increased in popularity over the last three years with over 9.6 million Australians now walking, up around 800,000 from 2014.

“For younger Australians aged between six to 13 years old swimming (47.7%) marginally pips soccer (football) (45.7%) as the most regular sport or activity undertaken. The world game is ranked far ahead of rivals Australian football (18.2%), rugby league (11%) and rugby union (4.8%).

“Team sports dominate for Aussie kids with 10 of the top 20 sports reliant on the involvement of a team. In contrast, only three of the top 20 sports Australians aged 14 and over regularly participate in are distinctly team sports – soccer (3%), basketball (1.9%) and netball (1.6%).

“There is also a huge gap between the levels of participation between the different age groups.”

Advising that virtually all sports and activities measured on both surveys show higher rates of participation for children aged six to 13 years old than those aged 14 and over, Levine added “of the sports and activities measured on both surveys it is swimming that ranks highest and Australia’s penchant for swimming was covered extensively in a release that looked in-depth at swimming and other Commonwealth Games sports available here.

“Roy Morgan’s extensive demographic, attitudinal and behavioural data allows sporting organisations to gain deeper insight into the trends for participation in their respective sports and also develop an understanding of the other interests and activities that drive participants.”

Click here for more information about Roy Morgan’s Single Source and Young Australians surveys, and our latest sports and activities participation data.

Main image courtesy of Nordic Walking Australia. 

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8th December 2016 - LANDMARK STUDY FINDS SPORT STRUGGLING TO KEEP YOUTH ENGAGED 

25th September 2016 - 1.2 MILLION PRIMARY SCHOOL STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN SPORTING SCHOOLS PROGRAM

3rd July 2016 - AUSTRALIAN CHILDREN SLIDE DOWN GLOBAL FITNESS RANKINGS

3rd May 2016 - SPORTS COMMISSION URGES TEENAGERS TO ‘STICK WITH’ SPORT  

3rd February 2016 - MASSIVE GROWTH IN BUSHWALKING AS ‘GREEN EXERCISE’ AND HOLIDAY ACTIVITY

19th May 2013 - BRISK WALKING JUST AS GOOD FOR THE HEART AS RUNNING 

20th October 2012 - FITNESS AUSTRALIA FINDINGS SHOW A HEALTHIER AND FITTER FUTURE

18th July 2011 - NORDIC WALKING MAKES TRACKS 


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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.

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