4364.0.55.004 - Australian Health Survey: Physical Activity, 2011-12  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/07/2013  First Issue
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Contents >> Children and Young People >> 2-4 year olds


CHILDREN AGED 2–4 YEARS

For healthy development, learning and enjoyment, it is important for toddlers and pre-schoolers to be physically active each day. Active play is the best type of physical activity, involving both indoor and particularly outdoor play.

    Data source and definitions

    The Australian Health Survey collected information on both indoor and outdoor activity times. The physical activity for 2–4 year olds did not need to be of a particular intensity and includes anything that involved movement.

    Outdoor physical activity or active play included throwing a ball, walking, running around, free play in playgrounds or sandpits, helping in the garden, or any other outdoor activity that involved movement.

    Indoor physical activity or active play included dancing, jumping, 'rough and tumble', tidying up, helping to set the table, or any other indoor activity that involved movement.

In 2011-12, 2–4 year olds spent an average 6 hours and 12 minutes per day engaged in physical activity with just under half (47%) of the physical activity coming from outside activities. The 2–4 year olds in Queensland and Northern Territory spent significantly longer (3 hours and 27 minutes and 4 hours respectively) in outside physical activity per day compared to the national average of almost 3 hours.

Most 2–4 year olds (84%) averaged 3 or more hours of physical activity per day. However, just under three-quarters (72%) of 2–4 year olds were physically active for 3 hours or more per day on all 7 days prior to interview, meeting the physical activity recommendation.

Graph Image for Children aged 2-4 years- Average daily duration of physical activity(a)(b), 2011-12

Footnote(s): (a) Average over 7 days prior to interview (b) Proportions do not add to 100%, as includes children with time not known (c) Category 0-1 includes 1 minute to 59 minutes, 1-2 includes 1 hour to 1 hour and 59 minutes, etc.

Source(s): Australian Health Survey: Physical Activity



At the same time, 2–4 year olds spent almost one and a half hours (83 minutes) per day in the sedentary activities of watching TV/DVDs or playing electronic games. While 43% averaged no more than 60 minutes a day over the reporting week, only one in four (26%) met the screen-based activity recommendation on all 7 days prior to interview.

Graph Image for Children aged 2-4 years - Average daily duration of sedentary screen-based activity(a)(b), 2011-12

Footnote(s): (a) Average over 7 days prior to interview (b) Proportions do not add to 100%, as includes children with time not known (c) Category 0-1 includes 1 minute to 1 hour, 1-2 includes 61 minutes to 2 hours, etc.

Source(s): Australian Health Survey: Physical Activity



Almost one in six (16%) of 2–4 year olds had at least one item of screen–based equipment in their bedroom, such as a TV, computer or game console. These children spent on average an extra 22 minutes per day engaged in screen-based activities, and were twice as likely as those without screen equipment in their bedrooms to have done more than the recommended 60 minutes per day. See Tables 3,17 and 22 on the Downloads page for more information.

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