Based on self-reported data from the 2017–18 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Health Survey (NHS):
- 55% of Australian adults aged 18 and over were insufficiently active.
- 51% of Australian adults aged 18–64 were insufficiently active and 72% of adults aged 65 and over were insufficiently active.
- Women were 18% more likely to be insufficiently active than men after adjusting for age (Figure 1).
After adjusting for different population age structures over time, there was a 5.8% decrease in the proportion of adults who were insufficiently active between 2007–08 and 2017–18. However, rates have not changed since 2011–12 (AIHW 2019).
Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines provide recommendations on the amount and type of physical activity required for health benefits (Department of Health 2019). Based on the guidelines, insufficient physical activity is defined here as:
- adults aged 18–64 who did not complete 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity across 5 or more days in the last week
- adults aged 65 and over who did not complete at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day on 5 or more days in the last week.
In 2017–18, the ABS NHS collected information for the first time on physical activity at work. Therefore, results for 2017–18 include physical activity at work. For comparability across the different NHSs, data for trends exclude physical activity at work.
Figure 1: Insufficient physical activity, by age and sex, adults, 2017–18