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4835.0.55.001 - Physical Activity in Australia: A Snapshot, 2007-08  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 09/09/2011   
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DEMOGRAPHIC AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS


An individual's physical activity levels may be influenced by many environmental and socio-economic factors. For example, the availability of parks and cycling or walking paths in an area could encourage more people to exercise for leisure, while excessive cold, heat or humidity may prevent people from exercising. Additionally, a person's financial circumstances and the time they have outside of work, study or other commitments may have an impact on how regularly they exercise. Knowledge of healthy lifestyle behaviours could also play a part in people's attitudes towards exercise.


GEOGRAPHICAL CHARACTERISTICS

States and Territories

After adjusting for age, the ACT had the highest rate of people meeting the physical activity guidelines (37%), while Queensland had the lowest rate (28%) (Graph 3.1).

In general, people living in the ACT have higher incomes [12] and educational attainment [13] than people living elsewhere in Australia and these factors may contribute to their higher levels of exercise.

3.1 Proportion of people who met the physical activity guidelines(a)(b), by State and Territory(c)

Graph-3.1 Proportion of people who met the physical activity guidelines, by state and territory

(a) The National Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults.
(b) Based on exercise undertaken for fitness, recreation or sport in the last week.
(c) Age standardised to the 2001 estimated resident population.

Source: National Health Survey, 2007-08


Remoteness

People living in rural areas are often perceived to be more active than those living in metropolitan areas, due to the physical nature of work such as agriculture, forestry and fishing. However, reduced access to and availability of sporting and public transport facilities in rural areas may create barriers to people participating in recreational physical activity [14]. The active nature of a person's job may also have an effect on how much physical activity they do outside of work.

After adjusting for age, a higher proportion of men living in inner regional (41%) or outer regional and remote areas (47%) of Australia did no exercise in the week prior to interview, compared with those living in major cities (36%). Men in outer regional and remote areas of Australia were also more likely than those in major cities to be sedentary or exercise at low levels (72% compared with 68%). This could be influenced by the amount of physical activity they do at work. The exercise levels of women living both in and outside major cities was similar.


HOUSEHOLD INCOME AND DISADVANTAGE

Household income and level of disadvantage may also influence a person's level of physical activity. There is a relationship between lower socio-economic status and reduced participation in physical activity, which may be due in part, for example, to limited financial resources, greater child-minding responsibilities, higher levels of disability, higher levels of psychological distress, or long hours in manual work, all of which affect people's capacity for participation.

In 2007-08, adults living in the lowest income households were less likely than those in the highest income households to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines (28% compared with 42%). They were also more likely than those in the highest income households to be sedentary or exercise at low levels (79% compared with 61%).

Around half of men living in the lowest income households reported that they had done no exercise in the past week (50%), compared with 28% of those in households with the highest incomes. Women living in the lowest income households were more than twice as likely as those living in the highest income households to do no exercise (53% and 26% respectively) (Graph 3.2). Physical activity levels may be affected by the age distribution of these households (with a greater proportion of older people living in lower income households).

3.2 Proportion of people who did no exercise(a), by Equivalised household
income(b)
Graph-Proportion of people who did no exercise, by equivalised household income
(a) Level of exercise undertaken for fitness, recreation or sport in last week.
(b) Excludes persons for whom equivalised household income was not stated or not known.

Source: National Health Survey, 2007-08


The Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA) Index of Disadvantage summarises various attributes such as income, unemployment and educational attainment of an area in which people reside. Apart from socio-economic differences between areas in terms of income, employment and education, some areas with higher levels of disadvantage may have fewer opportunities for physical activity [15].

After adjusting for age, adults living in areas with the highest levels of disadvantage were less likely than those living in areas of least disadvantage to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines (27% compared with 38%). They were also more likely than those living in areas of least disadvantage to be sedentary or exercise at low levels (80% and 65% respectively) and to not exercise in the last week (51% and 29% respectively).

These patterns were similar for both men and women (Graph 3.3).

3.3 Proportion of people who did no exercise(a), by Index of disadvantage(b)(c)
Graph-3.3 Proportion of people who did no exercise, by index of disadvantage
(a) Level of exercise undertaken for fitness, recreation or sport in last week.
(b) Excludes persons for whom index of disadvantage was not able to be determined.
(c) Age standardised to the 2001 estimated resident population.

Source: National Health Survey, 2007-08


HOUSEHOLD COMPOSITION

People who have dependent children may have less time available to engage in physical activity due to their family commitments. In 2007-08, people who had children aged 0-17 years were less likely to meet the physical activity guidelines than those who did not have children (28% and 33% respectively).

Of the people with children, those aged 25-34 years (26%), 35-44 years and 45-54 years (both 27%) were less likely to meet the guidelines than those aged 18-24 years (36%). Women were more likely than men to be sedentary or have low exercise levels (79% compared with 70%).


EDUCATION

Recent Australian research has found that higher education levels are associated with increased physical activity [16]. People with higher levels of education may be more informed of the health consequences of certain lifestyle behaviours, leading them to exercise more often.

In 2007-08, adults who had completed Year 12 or equivalent were more likely to meet the physical activity guidelines than those who completed Year 11 or lower (36% compared with 27%). This was consistent for both men and women.

Adults who completed Year 12 or equivalent were less likely to be sedentary or exercise at low levels (67%) than those who completed Year 11 or lower (78%).

This pattern was the same for both men and women (Graph 3.4).

3.4 Proportion of people who were sedentary or exercised at low levels(a), by Highest year of school completed
Graph-3.4 Proportion of people who were sedentary or exercised at low levels, by highest year of school completed
(a) Level of exercise undertaken for fitness, recreation or sport in last week.

Source: National Health Survey, 2007-08


Similarly, adults with a degree, diploma or higher qualification were more likely to meet the physical activity guidelines than those with other or no post-school qualifications (38% compared with 28%), and less likely to be sedentary or exercise at low levels (66% compared with 75%).

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