4364.0.55.001 - Australian Health Survey: First Results, 2011-12  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/10/2012  First Issue
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Physical activity is an important factor in maintaining good overall health and wellbeing, and can help in the prevention of long-term health conditions such as heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.

    Data source and definitions

    Types of exercise covered in the Australian Health Survey were walking, moderate and vigorous exercise for sport, recreation or fitness. Moderate exercise consists of activity undertaken for fitness, recreation or sport that causes a moderate increase in heart rate or breathing, while vigorous exercise causes a large increase in a person's heart rate or breathing. Level of exercise is determined based on the frequency, intensity and duration of exercise.

    More detailed information on exercise based on 8 days of pedometer readings and more detailed physical activity questions will be available upon release of results from the National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey in 2013.

In 2011-12, while most Australians aged 15 years and over had undertaken exercise in the last week, the overall level of this activity was low. Taking into account the intensity, duration and frequency of individuals' physical activity, 66.9% of Australians were either sedentary or had low levels of exercise in the week prior to interview (comprised of 35.4% sedentary and 31.5% low levels of exercise). However, this is a decrease from 2007-08 when the proportion of people who were sedentary or had low levels of exercise was 71.6%.

Older people did less exercise than younger people, with 56.9% of people aged 75 years and over being sedentary and 25.8% having low levels of exercise.

Levels of exercise differ for men and women, with men generally more active than women. In particular, young males (15-17 year olds) were three times more likely to undertake high levels of exercise than women (31.2% compared with 11.8% respectively) and women aged 15-17 years were nearly twice as likely than men to be sedentary (28.7% compared to 14.5% respectively).

Graph Image for Level of exercise(a)(b), 2011-12

Footnote(s): (a) Level of exercise undertaken for fitness, recreation or sport in the last week. (b) Persons aged 15 years and over.

Source(s): Australian Health Survey: First Results

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