Australian Bureau of Statistics
4363.0.55.001 - Australian Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2011-13
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/12/2012
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For the purposes of the survey, moderate exercise was defined as exercise undertaken for fitness, recreation or sport that caused a moderate increase in the heart rate or breathing of the respondent. Vigorous exercise was defined as exercise undertaken for fitness, recreation or sport that caused a large increase in the respondent's heart rate or breathing.
The application of these definitions reflected the respondent's perception of moderate or vigorous exercise or walking, and the purpose of that activity. Responses may have varied according to the type of activity performed, the intensity with which it was performed, the level of fitness of the participant, and their general health and other characteristics (e.g. age). For example, some respondents may consider a game of golf to be moderate exercise while others may consider it walking. Information was not recorded in the survey about the type of activities undertaken.
Information was collected for all persons aged 15 years and over in the NHS survey.
The National Physical Activity Guidelines for Australian adults recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days. To gauge levels of activity, respondents were asked a series of questions about the exercise they undertook in the last week, expressed in the three categories of walking, moderate exercise and vigorous exercise.
Respondents were asked whether they did any of the following, for at least 10 minutes, in the last week:
For each of these categories of exercise, respondents were asked:
From the information recorded about the frequency, duration and intensity of exercise undertaken for fitness, recreation or sport, an exercise level was derived for each respondent. The aim was to produce a descriptor of relative overall exercise level, and to indicate the quality of the activities undertaken in terms of maintaining heart, lung and muscle fitness. Whether a person has met physical activity guidelines is calculated using the following formula:
No. of times activity undertaken in last week x average time per session (minutes) x Intensity;
where intensity, or metabolic equivalent of task (MET), is a measure of the energy expenditure required to carry out the exercise, expressed as a multiple of the resting metabolic rate (RMR). As the survey did not collect details of the types of activities undertaken, an intensity value was estimated for each of the three categories of exercise identified in the survey, as follows:
A score was derived for each of the three categories of exercise and then summed to provide a total for the respondent for that period. Respondents were grouped into exercise levels according to their score. For the one week period, score ranges were grouped and labelled as follows:
After the specific exercise questions, all respondents were asked whether they had walked in the last week for periods of 10 minutes or more, for the purpose of going from place to place (i.e. for transport, not for fitness, recreation or sport). Those who had done so were asked the number of times they had walked for transport in the last week and the total time walked.
Respondents were asked which of the following best describes what you do on a typical work day:
Respondents were asked to report the time (hours and minutes) they spent sitting while watching television and using the computer on a usual week day, and all respondents were then asked to report the amount of time (hours and minutes) they spent sitting in other leisure time on a usual work/week day. Data is not available separately for time spent in leisure due to the potential overlap of responses (e.g. persons may have reported the same activity for 'time spent sitting at the computer' and 'time spent sitting in other leisure time'). There may be other activities which were not included by respondents, so this data should be used with caution.
Data from the questions on walking for the purposes of going from place to place, level of activity at work and time spent sitting do not contribute to the calculations of exercise level.
The data items and related output categories for this topic will be available in Excel spreadsheet format from the Downloads page of this product.
Points to be considered when interpreting data relating to exercise for fitness, recreation or sport include the following.
Points to be considered when interpreting data relating to walking for transport, fitness, recreation or sport include the following.
Comparability with 2007-08
The majority of the data on exercise for fitness, recreation and sport were collected in the 2011-12 NHS with the same methodology and questions used in the 2007-08 survey, and therefore most results are considered directly comparable. The following changes, however, should be noted.
This page last updated 4 April 2013
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