Physical activity is an important aspect of maintaining good overall health. Low levels of activity, including high levels of sedentary behaviour are a risk factor for a range of health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, as well as being a strong contributor to levels of obesity.
Children in non-remote areas
In 2012-13, results for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander toddlers and pre-schoolers (aged 2-4 years) in non-remote areas showed they spent:
- an average of 6.6 hours per day on physical activity
- more time outdoors than non-Indigenous children of the same age (3.5 hours compared to 2.8 hours)
- an average of one and a half hours (1.5 hours) on sedentary screen-based activities such as watching TV, DVDs or playing electronic games.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5-17 years in non-remote areas, the results showed that:
Adults in non-remote areas
- an average of two hours per day was spent on physical activity, 25 minutes more than non-Indigenous children of the same age and well above the recommended one hour per day
- almost one in two met the physical activity recommendation compared with only one in three for non-Indigenous children (48% compared to 35%)
- the most common physical activity was active play and children’s games (57%), followed by swimming (18%)
- an average of 2.6 hours was spent on sedentary screen-based activities per day, above the recommended limit of two hours
- young people aged 15-17 years spent more time than children aged 5-8 years on screen-based activities (3.3 hours compared with 1.9 hours)
- at age 12-14 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children spent half the time non-Indigenous children did on using the internet or computer for homework (4 minutes compared to 8 minutes per day) and nearly one third of the time by age 15-17 years (8 minutes compared to 20 minutes per day)
- those who participated in the pedometer study recorded an average of 9,593 steps per day, with one in four children (25%) meeting the 12,000 steps threshold per day (on average).
In 2012-13, results for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged 18 years and over in non-remote areas showed:
- adults spent around one third the time on physical activity compared with children aged 5-17 years at 39 minutes per day, of which 21 minutes was on walking for transport
- four in ten (38%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults were sufficiently active for health, doing at least 150 minutes of physical activity in five or more sessions over a seven day period
- an average of 5.3 hours per day was spent on sedentary behaviour, including 2.3 hours of watching television, DVDs and videos
- those who participated in the pedometer study recorded an average of 6,963 steps per day, with one in six (17%) meeting the recommended threshold of 10,000 steps or more.
When compared with the non-Indigenous adult population (and after adjusting for age differences), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults:
Remote areas (5 years and over)
- were less likely to be sufficiently active for health (rate ratio 0.8)
- were less likely to be participating in any physical activity (rate ratio 0.9)
- spent less time on sedentary behaviour (for work, leisure, and travel) (rate ratio 0.9).
In 2012-13, results for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and adults in remote areas showed:
- four in five (82%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged 5-17 years did more than 60 minutes of physical activity on the day prior to the interview
- other than walking (82%), the two most common activities for children aged 5-17 were running (53%) and playing football or soccer (33%)
- just over half of adults (55%) did more than the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity on the day prior to the interview
- the most common type of physical activity for adults was walking to places (71%). Cultural activities of hunting or gathering for bush foods, or going fishing saw one in ten (11%) participating
- one in five adults (21%) did not participate in any physical activity on the day prior to the interview.
For definitions used in this publication, see Glossary