Sports and physical recreation play a part in the lives of many Australians. The 2002 General Social Survey (GSS) found that, during the 12 months prior to interview, 62.4% of Australians aged 18 years and over participated in physical activities for recreation, exercise or sport. There are many benefits associated with regular participation in sports and physical recreation, including improved health, physical fitness, self-esteem, sense of personal achievement and social interaction.
This chapter presents summary data on participation in sports and physical recreation within the Australian community. The data have been sourced from a number of ABS surveys and these are discussed briefly below. It is clear from these data that a large number of Australians play sport or undertake other forms of physical recreation or exercise. However, some of these participants undertake these activities infrequently, such as only once or twice during a 12-month period. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that all participants undertake enough regular physical activity to benefit their health. Information about the frequency of participation in sports and physical recreation can be found in the more detailed publications relating to each survey data source.
The GSS collected data during March to July 2002 from persons aged 18 years and over about participation in physical activity for sport, recreation or exercise during the previous 12 months. Sports and physical recreation participation data from the GSS has been published in Participation in Sport and Physical Activities, Australia, 2002 (cat. no. 4177.0).
Participation data for persons aged 18 years and over was also collected for the years 1996-97 to 1999-2000 using the Population Survey Monitor (PSM). The PSM asked about participation in sports or physical activities during the previous 12 months. Data has been published in editions of Participation in Sport and Physical Activities, Australia (cat. no. 4177.0).
The National Health Survey (NHS), conducted in 1989-90, 1995, 2001 and 2004-05, collected information about participation in exercise during the two weeks prior to interview for persons aged 18 years and over. Data from the NHS has been published in National Health Survey: Summary of Results (cat. no. 4364.0). Exercise data for Indigenous persons was collected by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey for 2004-05 and by its predecessors for 1995 and 2001.
The Survey of Children's Participation in Culture and Leisure Activities, conducted in April of 2000 and 2003, collected data on participation in organised sport outside school hours for children aged 5-14 years. These data are available in Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia (cat. no. 4901.0).
The Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers, conducted in 1998 and 2003, obtained information regarding whether persons with a disability had participated in sports and recreation away from home during the previous 12 months. The survey data have been published in Disability, Ageing and Carers: Summary of Findings, Australia (cat. no. 4430.0).
When comparing data from different sources it is important to take into consideration the scope and methodology of the surveys. These issues are discussed in this chapter wherever such comparisons are made.