Skip to content

Mature-aged Sport

An ageing population presents potential benefits and challenges—particularly across the social policy related areas of health services, active participation of older persons in society, community planning and infrastructure, and overall quality of life. 1, 2, 3

When sports organisations engage with older individuals and communities, they can gain mutual benefits. Sports can gain diversity of thinking and ideas drawn from older people’s experiences and increase the accessibility of their programs. 4, 5

In return, sport and physical activity can benefit older individuals, with long-term participation linked to enhanced and lifelong physical, mental, and social wellbeing outcomes. 4, 6, 7, 8

At June 2022, there were an estimated 7.5 million Australians aged 55 years and over. Over half (52%) of Australians aged 55 years and over were women. 9

By 2070, it is projected that people over 55 years could make up 43% of the total Australian population. 10


An estimated 2,286,000 (31%) of Australians [aged 55+] participated in a sport-related activity at least once a week. 11
An estimated 1,384,000 (39%) of Australian men [aged 55+] and 902,000 (23%) of Australian women [aged 55+] participated in a sport-related activity at least once a week. 11
11% of Australians [aged 55+] were involved in a non-playing role at least once in 2022. 12
Estimated age group participation in sport-related activities at least once a week by Australians [aged 55+] 11
Sport-related participation at least once a week by State/Territory, Australians [aged 55+] 11
  • Australian Capital Territory - 36,000 (34%)
  • New South Wales - 754,000 (31%)
  • *Northern Territory - 20,000 (35%)
  • Queensland - 439,000 (30%)
  • South Australia - 151,000 (26%)
  • Tasmania - 53,000 (28%)
  • Victoria - 591,000 (32%)
  • Western Australia - 243,000 (33%)

*estimate has a relative margin of error between 50% and 100% and should be used with caution’ for Northern Territory

An estimated 407,000 (20% of) Australians [aged 55+] with a disability participated in a sport-related activity at least once a week. 11
An estimated 32,000 (22% of) First Nations' peoples [aged 55+] participated in a sport-related activity at least once a week. 11
An estimated 148,000 (26% of) Australians [aged 55+] who speak a language other than English (LOTE) at home participated in a sport-related activity at least once a week. 11

Most popular sport-related activities with estimated participants 13

Mature Adult aged 55-64
Swimming - 585,000
Cycling - 551,000
Running/Athletics - 306,000
Golf - 283,000
Tennis - 178,000
Mature Adult aged 65-74
Swimming - 402,000
Cycling - 316,000
Golf - 235,000
Tennis - 110,000
Running/Athletics - 98,000
Mature Adult aged 75-79
Swimming - 100,000
Golf - 100,000
Cycling - 46,000
Bowls - 43,000
Tennis - 34,000
Mature Adult aged 80+
Swimming - 97,000
Golf - 83,000
Bowls - 58,000
Cycling - 45,000
Tennis - 23,000
  1. Associations between physical activity, medical costs and hospitalisations in older Australian women: Results from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, G.M.E.E. (Geeske) Peeters,, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Volume 21(6), pp.604-608, (2018).
  2. Preventing dementia by promoting physical activity and the long-term impact on health and social care expenditures, van Baal P, Hoogendoom M and Fischer A, Preventive Medicine, Volume 85, pp.78-83, (2016).
  3. Healthy Active Aging, Heat Foundation Australia, (accessed 8 December 2023).
  4. Active and Healthy Ageing through Sport van Uffelen J, Jenkin C, Westerbeek H, Biddle S and Eime R, Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL), Victoria University, Report prepared for the Australian Sports Commission (2015).
  5. Are they ‘worth their weight in gold’? Sport for older adults: benefits and barriers of their participation for sporting organisations, Jenkin C, Eime R, Westerbeek H, et al., International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, Volume 8(4), pp.663-680, (2016).
  6. A systematic review of the psychological and social benefits of participation in sport for adults: informing development of a conceptual model of health through sport, Eime R, Young J, Harvey J,, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Volume 10 (2013).
  7. Physical Activity, Aging, and Physiological Function, Harridge S and Lazarus N, Physiology, Volume 32(2), pp.152-161, (2017).
  8. A life-long approach to physical activity for brain health, Macpherson H, Teo W, Schneider L and Smith A, Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, Volume 9 (2017).
  9. National, state and territory population: Population – Australia: Population at 30 June, by sex and single year of age, Aust., from 1971 onwards [data download], Australian Bureau of Statistics, (14 September 2023)
  10. Population Projections, Australia, 2022-2071, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Stat Data Explorer, (accessed 8 December 2023).
  11. AusPlay Data Portal: Sport-related participation – frequency of participation, Australian Sports Commission, (accessed 5 December 2023).
  12. AusPlay Data Portal: Non-playing roles, Australian Sports Commission, (accessed 5 December 2023).
  13. AusPlay Data Portal: Participation by activity, Australian Sports Commission, (accessed 14 July 2023)


Related Topics

Last updated: 25 January 2024
Content disclaimer: See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer


The Clearinghouse for Sport is a sector-wide knowledge sharing initiative, and as such your contributions are encouraged and appreciated. If you would like to suggest a resource, submit a publication, or provide feedback on this topic, please contact us.

Alternatively, if you would like to be kept up to date with research and information published about this topic, please request a research profile setup.

Return to top