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Updated: 27 July 2011

Australian Social Trends (cat.no.4102.0) - Sport and Recreation

Australian Social Trends (cat.no.4102.0)

This article looks at the rates of participation in sport and physical recreation across Australia for people aged 15 years and over, by selected characteristics and by selected activities.

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Australian Social Trends (cat.no.4102.0)

The article also looks at Australians who had reported low or no exercise and who would therefore not be meeting the National Physical Activity Guidelines.

The following overview and key findings are taken directly from the Australian Social Trends (cat.no.4102.0) - Sport and Recreation article.

Overview

Sport is an important feature of the Australian lifestyle and plays a large part in the lives of many Australians. Participation in sport or physical recreation offers many benefits, ranging from simple enjoyment to improved health and the opportunity for social interaction.

Regular physical activity reduces the likelihood of a person developing many chronic diseases, and may also play a therapeutic role in relation to mental health disorders. Physical activity is important for young people in developing healthy bodies, but is also important for older people in maintaining quality of life and independence.

Participating in sport or physical recreation with others may also provide opportunities for social interaction, leading to stronger personal and community networks. Due to the many known benefits of exercise, the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing promotes the National Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults, which advocate at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days.

Key Findings

The majority of Australians participate in some form of sport or physical recreation at least once in any given year. Depending on a person’s circumstances or characteristics, they may be more or less likely to have participated. The activities in which they participate also vary.

Although most Australians do participate, of concern is that less than one-third (30%) did so more than twice a week in 2009-10 and that the majority of Australians had only low or sedentary exercise levels (72% in 2007-08). Many Australians would not be achieving the exercise levels recommended by the National Physical Activity Guidelines.

Improved Health and Physical Education (HPE) in schools may be a way to improve this situation, initially among children, but with potential flow on effects for adult participation as these children age. HPE will be included in the development of the Australian Curriculum for all school students as a core learning requirement until the end of Year 10. The objective will be to maximise the number of school hours that students participate in quality physical education and sport.

Each state and territory, through their sport and/or health departments, along with their institutes or academies of sport, has an important role to play in promoting sport and physical activity within their jurisdiction. At the national level, the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) has a wide range of programs in place to meet its key objective of securing an ‘effective national sports system that supports improved participation in quality sport activity by Australians’. Achieving this objective will take the ASC one step closer to achieving their mission of ‘enriching the lives of all Australians through sports’.

Year published: 2011

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