4727.0.55.004 - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Physical activity, 2012-13  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 05/12/2014  First Issue
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Physical activity is an important contributor to good health for children. The amount of time spent on physical activity has long been a focus for research and policy makers. A complementary research focus is sedentary time, and in particular, the amount of time spent on screen-based activities, which are considered to be strong contributors to sedentary behaviour.

    Physical activity and screen-based recommendations for children

    The recommendations used in the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, based on the National Physical Activity Recommendations, follow.

    For children aged 2–4 years:
    • at least three hours of physical activity every day, either in a single block or spread throughout the day
    • a maximum of one hour of screen-based activity per day, that is on electronic media such as TV, DVDs, computer and other electronic games.

    For children aged 5–17 years:
    • at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day
    • a maximum of two hours screen–based activity for entertainment/non-educational purposes a day, ie excludes time spent on homework.

    Physical and screen-based activity data was collected over the three days prior to interview. The recommendations therefore cover this period of three days.

    For more information see the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2012-13 (cat no.4727.0.55.002).

To complement the physical activity data collected via self-report methods, pedometer data was collected in non-remote areas as an objective measure of the volume of physical activity undertaken. Although the data does not indicate the level of intensity (such as whether the activity level is low, moderate or high), it can provide an insight into the general levels of physical activity.

    Pedometer data

    In the 2012-13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey (NATSINPAS), respondents aged 5 years and over in non-remote areas were asked to participate in a Pedometer data collection component. About one in four (27%) 5-17 year old respondents agreed and provided sufficient data to meet a four day (including one week day and one weekend day) reporting threshold requirement.

    As there are no current standard national recommendations for target steps per day, the threshold used for children aged 5–17 years was taken from the Canadian Health Measures Survey, which suggests a single minimal daily target of 12,000 steps per day for both boys and girls1.

    Data interpretation

    There are certain physical activities where a pedometer may not be worn (such as swimming, cycling or contact sports). Removal of the pedometer for these activities could therefore result in an underestimate of the steps taken. Of the child pedometer days recorded, 9% had noted the removal for sport or swimming. Step counts have not been imputed for time removed due to the limited information obtained on pedometer removal.

    For more details see the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Users' Guide, 2012-13 (cat no.4727.0.55.002).

1 Colley, RC, Janssen, I & Tremblay, MS 2012, Daily step target to measure adherence to physical activity guidelines in children, Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 44(5), 97 <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22051570>