Australians are getting more physical exercise into their lives, but the increase is not enough to offset the public health challenges posed by an increasingly sedentary and inactive lifestyle.
The latest data from Sport Australia’s annual AusPlay Survey, shows 63% of those questioned in 2018 took part in sport of physical activity at least three times a week. This compared favourably with 59.9% in 2016.
The most popular activity was recreational walking, followed by fitness/gym workouts, swimming, athletics and cycling.
Sport Australia chief executive Kate Palmer said the uptick in activity was a step in the right direction, but as a nation Australia was still falling a long way behind recommended physical activity guidelines.
“Research tells us only 19% of children meet the recommended one hour of physical activity a day,” Ms Palmer said.
“Our general lifestyles are becoming more sedentary than ever before because of such things as technological advances, so that makes it critically important to find dedicated time for sport and physical activity.”
The survey also highlighted the differences in types of physical and sporting activities undertaken by people depending on their stage of life.
For example, while walking was the most popular activity overall, it was heavily skewed towards those who were aged 35 years and older. By contrast, swimming was most popular for children in their formative years, while team sports came to the fore around the early teens.
Fitness and gym activities then become more popular from the late teenage years onwards.