Physical activity

Getting enough exercise is an important factor in maintaining good physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Many Australians, including those with disability, are not getting enough exercise. Based on self-reported data, nearly three-quarters (72%) of people aged 15 and over with disability do not do enough physical activity (including at work) for their age, compared with just over half (52%) of those without disability (Figure 1).

This was particularly the case for older people with disability:

  • 65% of adults with disability aged 18–64 do not do enough physical activity, compared with 48% without disability
  • 83% of older adults with disability (aged 65 and over) do not do enough physical activity, compared with 62% without disability (ABS 2019).
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Most people of both sexes do not get enough exercise, but females aged 15 and over with disability (75%) are slightly less likely than males aged 15 and over with disability (68%) to meet the recommended guidelines (Figure 1). As this is consistent with patterns for the overall population, this likely reflects the sex of the person rather than their disability status.


ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2019. Microdata: National Health Survey, 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS. Findings based on AIHW analysis of the main unit record file (MURF).

Department of Health 2017. Australian's physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines.

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Figure 1

Stacked column chart showing whether people with and without disability met national guidelines for physical activity. The reader can select to display the chart by disability status, by age group, including 15-64 years, 65+ years and all ages, and by sex. The chart shows people with disability aged 65+ are less likely (17%) to meet the physical activity guidelines than those aged 15-64 (35%). Back to figure 1