Physical activity

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 and Aged Care 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.

Based on self-reported data from the 2022 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Health Survey (NHS):

  • nearly 4 in 10 (37%) adults aged 18–64 were insufficiently physically active. This proportion was higher in women (41%) than men (34%)
  • 57% of adults aged 65 and over were insufficiently physically active. This was higher in women (60%) than men (53%) (Figure 1) (AIHW 2024).

After adjusting for age, there has been a large decrease in the proportion of adults aged 18 and over who did not meet the physical activity component of the guidelines, from an estimated 64% in 2017–18 to 45% in 2022, indicating an increase in the estimated number of people doing physical activity (AIHW 2024).

See the Physical activity report for more information.

Figure 1: Proportion of insufficiently physically active adults aged 18 and over, by age and sex, 2022

Insufficient physical activity increases with age, and is more pronounced in females compared to males, with those aged 55 and over having the least amount of physical activity.

Source: Physical activity (AIHW 2024). For data and footnotes see data table S1a in Physical activity