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Mature-aged Sport and Physical Activity

Long-term sport and physical activity behaviours have been linked to enhanced and lifelong physical, mental, and social wellbeing outcomes.

15% of Australians (3.7 million) were aged 65 and over in 2016. This cohort is projected to grow to 22% of our total population (approximately 8.7 million) by 2056.

An ageing population presents many significant challenges to governments—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.

Key messages


2019/20 AusPlay data shows that 48% of older Australians (65+) participated in physical activity five times per week—of which 43% of those respondents said they were active through sport-related activities.

Physical activity

Australian physical activity guidelines for older adults (65+) recommend accumulating at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity daily.

Health benefits

More recent research has shown that older persons who maintain a higher level of physical capacity may actually slow their ageing process, as well as contributing to improved personal health outcomes.


The increasing ageing population in Australia and other nations is often discussed in both media and government policy forums. It is primarily the result of lower birth rates, increased life expectancy, and the global population increase since the late 1940’s (e.g. the post war generation of ‘Baby Boomers’).


Evidence suggests the strongest motivations for participation in physical activity among older adults are the perceived health and social benefits. However there are many factors that appear to affect participation, such as gender, household income, education, and socio-cultural background.


Competition and initiatives

Further information

Related Topics

Evaluated by: Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport
Reviewed by: Australasian Sport Information Network
Last updated: 13 October 2020
Content disclaimer: See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer


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