Physical Activity

Physical Activity

Prepared by : Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport
Evaluation by : Melinda Craike, Associate Professor of Physical Activity and Health, Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University (March 2020)
Reviewed by network : Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN), April 2019
Last updated : 14 May 2020
Content disclaimer : See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer
Junior Sport Framework

Introduction

The benefits of regular physical activity (PA) are numerous and supported by a broad body of research and evidence. 

Physical activity (PA) is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure.  Physical activity can be undertaken in many different ways: walking, cycling, sports and active forms of recreation (for example, dance, yoga, tai chi). Physical activity can also be undertaken at work and around the home. All forms of physical activity can provide health benefits if undertaken regularly and of sufficient duration and intensity. 

Physical inactivity is a leading risk factor for premature mortality and reduced quality of life—both physical and mental. High levels of sedentary behaviour and physical inactivity at a population level can place a significant burden on a nation’s health budget and its economy. 

Sport in its many forms can serve as an excellent platform for families, communities and governments to encourage more people to get more active more often, and to increase their levels of physical activity—whether that be for an individual or a nation.

Benefits of physical activity

    PA reduces the risk of developing:

    A range of non-communicable diseases and illness including coronary artery disease; Type 2 diabetes; depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses; dementia/cognitive decline in older adults; and some cancers. PA can also improve resilience to some communicable diseases.

    Individual and social benefits:

    Improved physical fitness—flexibility, body composition, cardio-respiratory health, strength endurance and movement skills. Enhanced cognitive development—mental concentration and sleep/wake cycles. Enhanced psychological and social development—interpersonal skills, personal resilience, confidence and self-esteem. Improved productivity and lower health care costs. 

    Why sport?

    While all PA provides significant benefits for health and wellbeing, sportparticularly team-based sportcan provide stronger outcomes including: improved resilience; improved mental health outcomes across the life course; positive role models; social connectedness; higher likelihood of meeting PA guidelines and continuing PA long term.
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ReadingReading

  • 12 minutes more: The importance of physical activity, sports and exercise in order to improve health, personal finances and the pressures on the NHS (PDF  - 1.6 MB), Lordan G, Pakrashi D and Jones A, Nuffield Health, UK,(2013). This report cites current research that supports the value of sport and physical activity for long-term health benefits. The report also links sport and physical activity to personal financial and population-wide economic benefits. Realising the benefits of sport, exercise and physical activity does not require expensive structural change to the public sector or government legislation. We simply need a more exercise friendly environment and a change of attitude, asking ourselves ‘How do we get an extra 12 minutes of physical activity into our day?’
  • Aerobic exercise may improve thinking skills in adults of all ages, Linda Carroll, Reuters, (31 January 2019). Numerous studies have shown that aerobic exercise can improve cognition in seniors, but a small new study finds that vigorous workouts boost thinking skills in younger adults as well. 
  • Behaviour change study on physical activity: How technology-based incentives drive healthier lives, RAND Corporation/Vitality, (2018). This study outlines findings of the largest behavioural change study on physical activity - based on verified data. Conducted by RAND Europe, a not-for-profit global research institute, this study is the largest yet to measure the effectiveness of financial rewards coupled with wearable technology to make people more active over time.
  • Even a 20-Second Exercise ‘Snack’ Can Improve Fitness, Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, (23 January 2019). As little as 20 seconds of brisk stair climbing, done several times a day, might be enough to increase aerobic fitness.
  • Exercise Linked With Lower Risk of 13 Types of Cancer, Hope Cristol, American Cancer Society, (17 May). Previous studies have investigated the link between physical activity and cancer risk, and results were inconclusive for most cancer types. The exceptions were colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. This new study, published May 16 in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that leisure-time physical activity was associated with a significantly decreased risk of not only these 3 cancers, but also esophageal cancer, liver cancer, stomach cancer, kidney cancer, and myeloid leukemia. In addition, physical activity was strongly associated with a decreased risk of multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, as well as cancers of the head and neck, rectum, bladder, and lung (in current and former smokers).
  • Exercise makes you happier than money, according to Yale and Oxford research, Ruqayyah Moynihan, Business Insider Deutschland, (3 April 2019). Researchers at Yale and Oxford say exercise is more important to your mental health than your economic status. The scientists found that while people who exercise regularly tend to feel bad for 35 days a year, nonactive participants felt bad for 18 days more. The team also found that certain sports that involve socializing can have more of a positive effect on your mental health than others.
  • The exercise that best supports your mental health, Sarah Berry, The Sydney Morning Herald, (20 November 2019). Cycling or walking to and from work are among the best exercises for our mental health, according to a new paper, published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity. Along with active transport, any leisure activity we enjoy, whether it’s playing football, hitting the gym or going for a stroll, also reap mental health rewards.
  • Fitness and body mass index during adolescence and disability later in life [Infographic], Pontus Henriksson, et.al., British Journal of Sports Medicine blog, (24 September 2019). As shown in the infographic below, both low cardiorespiratory fitness and obesity in adolescence were strongly associated with later disability pension. Thus, our findings display the relevance of high cardiorespiratory fitness and healthy body weight during adolescence in relation to later disability.
  • Forget long-term health benefits, get active for the short term rewards, Alexandra Parker and Melinda Craike, Canberra Times, (10 October 2019). The human psyche responds to immediate reward and the long-term physical health benefits of exercise - often years away - have failed to motivate us to move. Switching our public messaging and campaigns to mental health and social benefits of physical activity, may help motivate people into action. A focus on feeling good, enjoyment, managing daily stress, a sense of achievement, the opportunity to socialise with friends or spend time with family are likely to be more motivating for most people.
  • GWI report: global physical activity sector worth US$828bn, Tom Walker, Sports Management, (15 October 2019). The physical activity economy is now a US$828bn (€752bn, £655bn) market – and its value is expected to grow further to US$1.1tn (€1tn, £870bn) by 2023.
  • Here’s how exercise reduces anxiety and makes you feel more connected, Kelly McGonigal, Washington Post, (21 January 2020). People who are physically active are happier and more satisfied with their lives. They have a stronger sense of purpose, feel more gratitude, are more connected to their communities, and are less likely to be lonely or anxious.
  • How much do sedentary people really need to move? It’s less than you think, Emmanuel Stamatakis, Joanne Gale and Melody Ding, University of Sydney, The Conversation, (23 April 2019). People who spend much of their day sitting may need to move around less than we thought to counteract their sedentary lifestyle, new research shows. About 20-40 minutes of physical activity a day, equivalent to meeting the physical activity guidelines of 150 to 300 minutes a week, seems to eliminate most health risks associated with sitting.
  • How much is physical inactivity costing the world? University of Sydney news, (28 July 2016). New research reveals the enormous economic burden of physical inactivity. "Based on our data, physical inactivity costs the global economy INT67.8 billion in 2013, with Australia footing a bill of more than AUD $805 million. At a global and individual country level these figures are likely to be an underestimate of the real cost".
  • Interactive body map: physical inactivity and the risks to your health, Carol Maher, National Heart Foundation Senior Research Fellow in Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Sleep, University of South Australia and Tim Olds, Professor of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, The Conversation, (8 December 2016). This interactive body map brings together scientific evidence on the links between lack of physical activity and disease. 
  • Just 15 min of exercise a day would 'boost world economy by US$100bn', Tom Walker, Sport Management, (8 November 2019). A study assessing the impact of physical inactivity on national economies has suggested that if all adults aged 18-64 walked just 15 minutes more a day, the world economy would grow by an estimated $100bn a year until 2050.
  • Lack of physical activity costing UK employers £6.6bn, Tom Walker, Sports Management, (27 September 2019). Getting employees more physically active could save UK businesses up to £6.6bn through improved employee productivity each year.
  • Long-Distance Skiers Have Less Depression and Vascular Dementia, But Not Alzheimer’s, Traci Pedersen, PsychCentral, (6 December 2019). In a new Swedish study, researchers compared 200,000 people who had participated in a long-distance cross-country ski race between 1989 and 2010 with a matched control group from the general population.
  • Organized sports in childhood linked to better emotional health in adolescence: study, Presse Canadienne, (9 June 2019). A study of Quebec children has found a link between consistent participation in organized sports in childhood and better emotional health once the child reaches the age of 12.
  • Physical Activity, World Health Organisation website, (accessed 25 March 2019). 
  • Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour: Research and StatisticsDepartment of Health Australia, (last updated 21 November 2017). This page contains scientific evidence review reports and key facts and figures regarding physical activity and sedentary behaviour.
  • Physical activity makes heart attack patients feel better, Reviewed by James Ives, News Medical Life Sciences, (24 April 2020). Heart attack patients who take part in a lifestyle improvement program feel better - especially when they do additional physical activity. That's the finding of a large study presented today on ACVC Essentials 4 You, a scientific platform of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).
  • Swimming saving NHS £357m a year, Tom Walker, Sports Management, (4 November 2019). Swim England has called on the government and healthcare professionals to "maximise the benefits" of swimming, after a report suggests that the activity saves the NHS more than £357m a year.

Report iconReports 

  • 2014 Consensus Statement from the first Economics of Physical Inactivity Consensus (EPIC) Conference, Vancouver (PDF  - 230 KB), Davis J, Verhagen E, Bryan S, et.al., British Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 48(12), (2014). The 'Economics of Physical Inactivity Consensus Workshop' (EPIC) was held in Vancouver, Canada, in April 2011. Goals of the workshop were to: (1) detail existing evidence on effective physical inactivity prevention strategies; (2) introduce economic evaluation and its role in health policy decisions; (3) discuss key challenges in establishing and building health economic evaluation evidence; and (4) provide insight into interpretation of economic evaluations. Investment decisions for promoting physical activity are based upon evidence and estimated return on investment. Program settings include schools, transportation systems, urban design, public education, primary care strategies, community programs and ‘sport for all’ initiatives. The economic burden of physical inactivity can be quantified in terms of health care costs and loss of productivity due to preventable or controllable diseases. Evaluation of evidence produced consensus on these points:
    • Physical inactivity is a well-established health problem.
    • The economic burden of physical inactivity accounts for 1–3% of total healthcare costs annually.
    • There is high-quality evidence to suggest that physical inactivity can be mitigated; thus costs can be saved.
    • It is currently difficult to determine how much can be saved. This is difficult to determine because of methodological challenges specific to conducting economic evaluations of physical inactivity interventions both at an individual and population level.
    • Further research must focus on alignment with decision-making priorities and use of cost-utility analysis methodology.
  • Active and Healthy Ageing through Sport (PDF  - 2.3 MB), van Uffelen J, Jenkin C, Westerbeek H, Biddle S and Eime R, Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL), Victoria University for the Australian Sports Commission, (2015). Organised sport, as one form of physical activity, provides an excellent opportunity for older adults to be active in an enjoyable setting. In addition to personal enjoyment, regular physical activity can improve physical and mental health, with the potential to improve overall quality of life. Furthermore, club-based or team-based sport participation has been associated with better social health, due to the interactive nature of participation. However, despite the known benefits of sport participation, there is a decline with age. The overall aim of this report is to provide knowledge about sport participation among the population of aging adults in Australia. For the purpose of this report, the age of 50+ years has been used and is referred to as ’older adults’. The specific aims of this report are: (1) to improve our knowledge about sport participation by older adults; (2) to summarise what is known about the benefits of sports participation and the barriers faced by older adults; and (3) to provide information about the opportunities, strategies and potential modifications that may increase sport participation by older adults. Data were used from two population-based surveys, the 2010 Exercise Recreation and Sport Survey (ERASS) and the 2013 Australian Health and Social Science study (AHSS). In addition, surveys from 192 National and State/Territory Sporting Organisations (NSOs and SSOs); plus eight focus group interviews were conducted, that included both sport club members and non-sport club individuals.
  • Active Citizens Worldwide: annual report 2019 (PDF  - 10.9 MB), Active Citizens Worldwide, (2019). Now in the second year ACW works to provide compelling evidence from participating cities (Auckland, London, Singapore, Stockholm) to shed light on the value of sport and physical activity (economic, health, social) and the complex systemic interplay between socio-economics, demographics, policy, and sport/physical activity participation. Some highlights of the report include: Physically active individuals are: 6% happier; 28% more trusting of community: have 6% higher life satisfaction; and, 14% less psychologically distressed. Sport can also lead to more time spent with others. For every hour spend doing sport, 48 minutes are spent with other people; for non-sport exercise 1 hour=23 minutes spent with others. The report also highlights that well-off individuals are up to 1.7 times more likely to be active than those less well-off and the participation gap between men and women remains pronounced in all participating cities. 
  • Brain Boost: How sport and physical activity enhance children’s learning, what the research is telling us, (PDF  - 2.9 MB), Smith J, Government of Western Australia, Department of Sport and Recreation, (2015). This report is a follow-up to one published in 2010, it updates the latest research supporting the positive link between physical activity (including sport) and cognitive development and academic success. It details findings from Australian and international research published in peer reviewed journals and it provides summaries of intervention and longitudinal research, correlational studies, and research reviews.
  • Common Misconceptions of Active Travel Investment: A review of the evidence, Sustrans, (2019). There are many misconceptions about investment in walking and cycling. New research by Sustrans uncovers the truth behind some common myths, by examining the mounting body of evidence showing the many health, environmental and economic benefits of walking and cycling.
  • The costs of illness attributable to physical inactivity in Australia: A preliminary study (PDF  - 964 KB), Stephenson J, Bauman A, Armstrong T, Smith B and Bellew B, Australian Government, Department of Health and Aged Care and the Australian Sports Commission, (2000). This discussion paper presents a preliminary analysis of the costs of illness attributable to physical inactivity, with particular emphasis on coronary heart disease, non-insulin dependent diabetes, and colon cancer. Other costs of illness attributable to physical inactivity are described, although in less detail.
  • The economic benefits of a more physically active population: An international analysis, Marco Hafner, et.al., RAND Corporation, (2019). The findings of this report suggest that making people physically more active is associated with economic benefits. Under three different physical activity improvement scenarios, it is estimated that by 2025, the global GDP could be between US$138 billion — US$338 billion higher with increased activity, compared to current physical activity levels. The economic benefits are increasing over time and by 2050 the estimated increase could be nearer to between US$314 billion and US$760 billion. A breakdown of the GDP gains suggests that reduced presenteeism drives the highest proportion of economic gain as a result of reducing physical inactivity — about 70 per cent — with reduced mortality and reduced sickness absence responsible for only about 30 percent of the overall GDP gains projected. Furthermore, the findings suggest that billions of dollars in global healthcare expenditure could be saved by improving physical activity rates. Overall the models estimate that between US$8.7 billion - US$11.2 billion in present global healthcare expenditure could be saved by making people physically more active, with those savings rising to between US$16 billion and US$20.6 billion by 2050.
  • The economic cost of physical inactivity in Europe (PDF  - 2.6 MB), International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA) and Centre for Economics and Business Research, (2015). This report examined the prevalence of physical inactivity in six European countries – Poland, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, using World Health Organization (WHO) physical activity guidelines as a benchmark. Inactivity contributes to obesity, but has far-reaching impacts on health. Understanding physical activity’s role in achieving energy balance and preventing obesity is an important part of effective public health policy. However, the consequences of physical inactivity are not solely related to weight gain. Individuals who are normal weight, but who are physical inactive, are still at increased risk of non-communicable diseases such as stroke, type two diabetes, some cancers and coronary heart disease. The direct cost of population-wide physical inactivity among the six focus countries in this study was estimated to be €7.6 billion in 2012. It’s estimated that a 20% reduction in the rate of physical inactivity could save 100,000 deaths annually and €11.8 billion across the 28 European Union countries.
  • Economic value of community club-based sport in Australia, (PDF  - 1.0 MB), Australian Sports Commission/Griffith University, (2017). The objective of this report was to develop a valid model to provide an economic estimate (i.e. Australian dollar value) of social benefits associated with the provision of, and participation in, club-based community sport in Australia. This was carried out using two measures of community based club sport participation: those taking part at least once per week for a minimum of 30 minutes, and those taking part at least three times per week for at least 30 minutes each time. The report estimated the financial value of 3 different measures of subjective well-being as well as for social capital. Although the income compensation values are high (billions of dollars) the authors caution that these do not represent any specific expenditures either by sports participants or government, but rather a theoretical value that would be needed to compensate the sport participant if they were prevented from taking part in sport in order to maintain the same level of subjective well-being or social capital.
  • The economics of exercise: Measuring the business benefit of being physically fitPJM Economics for AXA PPP healthcare, (September 2019). Highlights the substantial return on investment businesses could stand to make from increasing physical activity levels among employees. According to the study, if all employees met the recommended guidelines of doing 75 minutes of vigorous activity or 150 minutes of moderate activity per week (just over 20 minutes per day), it could deliver up to £6.6 billion in direct productivity gains to businesses each year.  
  • The effects of aerobic training on subclinical negative affect: A randomized controlled trial, McIntyre, Kathleen M., Puterman, Eli, Scodes, Jennifer M., et.al., Health Psychology, Volume 39(4), pp.255–264, (2020). The antidepressant and anxiolytic effects of aerobic exercise are well known, but less is known about its effects on subclinical levels of trait negative affect in healthy but sedentary adults. In the present study, we test the effects of a 3-month randomized controlled trial of aerobic exercise training in young to midlife adults on trait measures of depression, anxiety, hostility, and anger. At study entry, participants scored low on measures of depression, anxiety, hostility and anger. Analyses among the intent-to-treat and per protocol samples found significant treatment effects of aerobic training for hostility and depression, but not for anxiety and anger. Within-group analyses demonstrated that depression and hostility scores decreased in the exercise group over the course of the intervention, while remaining stable in the control group. These effects persisted for the exercise group at nonsignificant levels after 4 weeks of deconditioning.
  • Everybody Active, Every Day: An evidence-based approach to physical activity (PDF  - 1.3 MB), Varney J, Brannan M and Aaltonen G, Public Health England, (2014). This report provides evidence that physical activity reduces the risk of many preventable diseases. It also supports the role of physical activity in enhancing the life of everyone, from children to mature age.
  • Game of Life: how sport and recreation can help make us healthier, happier and richer, Cox S, Sport and Recreation Alliance, (2012). The ‘Game of Life’ is a document that brings together current evidence from the United Kingdom to support the underlying belief that participation in sport and recreation can benefit society and individuals.
  • Getting Australia Active: Towards better practice for the promotion of physical activity (PDF  - 1.3 MB), Bauman A, Bellew B, Vita P, Brown W and Owen N, National Public Health Partnership, (2002). Engaging in regular physical activity, even of moderate intensity, reduces the risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, osteoporosis, colon cancer, and obesity and injury. The benefits, however, go well beyond those of disease prevention. Regular physical activity has also been shown to facilitate better stress management, alleviate depression and anxiety, strengthen self-esteem, enhance mood and boost mental alertness. Additionally, it provides social benefits through increased social interaction and integration. Among children and adolescents, regular physical activity and exercise has been associated with improved school performance, a greater sense of personal responsibility and group cooperation, and less drug and alcohol consumption. This report summarises the evidence linking physical activity to better health outcomes. It will help stakeholders to guide practice and advance the physical activity agenda in Australia.
  • Getting Australia Active II: An update of evidence on physical activity for health (PDF  - 819 KB), Bull F, Bauman A, Bellew B and Brown W, National Public Health Partnership, (2004). This report updates the literature review in, Getting Australian Active: Towards better practice for the promotion of physical activity, and provides further evidence for stakeholders. It strengthens the epidemiological evidence-base for physical activity and health, with additional information in the diabetes prevention realm. Key evidence has accumulated about diabetes prevention since the first review of literature. There are now large scale prevention trials in China, Finland and the United States that have demonstrated success in reducing risk factors. This second report also includes evaluations of national strategies and documentation (where available) as an indicator of success.
  • Government response to the House of Commons Health Select Committee report on the impact of physical activity and diet on health, Sixth Report of Session 2014-15, Department of Health, United Kingdom, (July 2015). The Government recognises the seriousness of public health issues, and the need to increase levels of physical activity, improve diet and reduce obesity as key public health priorities. For too long, physical activity has been seen merely in the light of its benefits in tackling obesity. However, there is compelling evidence that physical activity in its own right has huge health benefits totally independent of a person’s weight. It has been suggested that increasing physical activity levels could have greater impact on reducing mortality than reducing weight. The Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines for recommend levels of activity will help people derive the greatest health benefits; but even small increases in activity levels can have a dramatic positive impact on health.
  • Her life depends on it III: Sport, physical activity, and health and wellbeing of American girls and women, Women’s Sports Foundation, (2015). This comprehensive report reviews the content of over 1,500 studies (including nearly 400 additional references since the previous edition) and summarises existing and emerging research on the links between participation in sport and physical activity and the health and wellbeing of American girls and women. As with the previous editions in 2004 and 2009, this analysis confirms that physical activity and sport provide the critical foundation that allows girls and women to lead healthy, strong, and fulfilled lives.
  • The Impact of Coaching on Participants 2017UK Coaching, (November 2017). This report presents the results from a four year study examining the experience of both adult and young participants who were either coached or not coached. Additional questions were added in the final year to focus on the reasons why people stop taking part in sport or physical activity. Participants were grouped into several market segments: active committed; active at risk; active returners; and inactive dropped out. Overall the results indicate that both adults and young people who are being coached are more likely to continue being committed to sport and physical activity, less likely to stop participating, and more likely to return to activity if they do stop (i.e. due to injury). However, the responses also demonstrate that people being coached are just as likely as those not being formally coached to think about stopping. Positive coach/participant relationships, and matching delivery to individual needs are important aspects for maintaining participation for all age groups. 
  • In Sport, We Trust: how sport can bridge the UK trust deficitSPORTED, (2019). The essential components of this work are new, innovative analysis of large national population datasets in the UK to establish a robust link between the activity (sport group engagement) and social outcomes (community cohesion measures), allowing us to report new findings and identify gaps in the evidence. This analysis includes Sport England’s own Active Lives dataset, which is analysed alongside other important datasets like Understanding Society, Taking Part and Community Life. All these datasets track participation in sports groups and almost all of the outcomes relevant to the DCMS Sporting Future Strategy and Sport England Evaluation Framework (health, wellbeing, individual development, community development). The target group of this study are young people aged 25 and below. Some key findings from the report include: 
    • There is a trust deficit dividing the UK: young people from lower socio-economic groups are 23% less likely to trust their neighbours compared to those from higher socio-economic groups.
    • Sport clubs can help bridge this trust deficit. Young people who are members of a local sports club have: Greater trust in other people; A stronger sense of belonging to their community; More close friends; Greater levels of life satisfaction, happiness and health; and, Greater desire to give back to their community through volunteering.
    • People from disadvantaged backgrounds have the most to gain. When young people are part of a local sports club, those from low socio-economic groups report a ten-time higher increase in trust and a three-time higher increase in life satisfaction compared to those from higher socio-economic groups.
  • Incentives and physical activity: An assessment of the association between Vitality's Active Rewards with Apple Watch benefit and sustained physical activity improvements, Marco Hafner, Jack Pollard, Christian Van Stolk, RAND Corporation, (2018). Discovery commissioned RAND Europe to conduct an independent assessment on whether the Vitality Active Rewards with Apple Watch benefit is associated with increased physical activity levels for Vitality members that take up the benefit, compared to those individuals that only participate in the Vitality Active Rewards programme. The study also examined whether these associations persist over time.
  • Intergenerational Review of Australian Sport (PDF   - 1.6 MB), Boston Consulting Group (BCG) for the Australian Sports Commission, (2017). This review focused on the overall sports sector, with a particular emphasis on participation in sport and community level sport. While the synergies between participation and high performance sporting outcomes are recognised as being important to any discussion about the value of sport, the primary purpose of this review was a global view of the sport sector. By observing trends related to participation, performance, and consumption of ‘sport’ (i.e. in terms of products and services sports provide). Some key economic conclusions from the report were that: 
    • Sport provides the Australian economy annual combined economic, health and education benefits of $83 billion [p. 7].
    • Sport creates significant value with at least $7 returned on every dollar expended in the sector. This figure is a combination of: direct economic benefits, the network of volunteers and not-for-profits, avoided health costs, and education benefits [p. 9].
  • Moving Ahead: The economic impact of reducing physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour, The Conference Board of Canada, (2014). Canadian physical activity guidelines indicate that adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week. This report explores the potential benefits that would ensue if 10% of the adult population improved their activity levels, in line with government recommended guidelines. It is estimated that such a change would significantly reduce the rates of major chronic health conditions, gross domestic product would increase by $7.5 billion, and health care spending would be reduced by $2.6 billion during the period 2015 to 2040.
  • Physical Activity 2014, Australian Medical Association, Position Statement, (2014). While physical activity forms part of the body’s energy balance equation, all too often the benefits of physical activity are only considered in relation to obesity and weight loss. The benefits of physical activity extend much further. Regular participation in physical activity is known to reduce the risk of physical health problems such as cardiovascular disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, some cancers and osteoporosis. There is also evidence that regular participation in physical activity improves both short- and long- term psychosocial wellbeing by reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Physical activity and sedentary behaviour: Evidence summary (PDF  - 869 KB), VicHealth, (2016). Regular physical activity contributes to good health across all life stages, whereas inactivity is one of the most significant risk factors, contributing to the global burden of disease. This evidence summary builds upon previous work and includes publications between 2009 and 2014. This report also includes physical activity statistics and trends for Victoria and Australia.
  • Physical Activity/Exercise and Diabetes: A Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association, Colberg S, Sigal R, Yardley J, Riddell M, Dunstan D, Dempsey P, Horton E, Castorino K and Tate D, Diabetes Care, Volume 39(11), (2016). This position statement provides a clinically oriented review and evidence-based recommendations regarding physical activity and exercise in people with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes mellitus, and prediabetes. Physical activity includes all movement that increases energy use, whereas exercise is planned and structured physical activity. Regular exercise has considerable health benefits, including (but not limited to): improved blood glucose control in type 2 diabetes; reduced cardiovascular risk factors; a contribution to weight loss and weight management; and improved wellbeing. Physical activity and exercise recommendations should be tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual.
  • Prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease: targeting risk factorsAustralian Institute of Health and Welfare, Catalogue Number PHE 118, (2009). Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease account for about one-quarter of the burden of disease in Australia, and just under two-thirds of all deaths. These three diseases often occur together and share common risk factors, including physical inactivity. This report includes information on the national prevalence of the main risk factors.
  • The relationship between organised recreational activity and mental health, Street G and James R, Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer Control, Curtin University, Government of Western Australia, Department of Sport and Recreation, (5 July 2019). A review of current literature indicates that people who participate in sports clubs and organised recreational activity enjoy better mental health, are more alert, and more resilient against the stresses of modern living. Participation in recreational groups and socially supported physical activity is shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and may reduce some symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Sources of resilience and their moderating relationships with harms from adverse childhood experiences, Karen Hughes, Kat Ford, Alisha R. Davies, Lucia Homolova, Mark A. Bellis, Public Health Wales NHS Trust, (2018). This report looked at the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and potential mitigating factors. They found that developing resilience through access to a trusted adult in childhood, supportive friends and being engaged in community activities, such as sports, reduced the risks of developing mental illness; even in those who experienced high levels of ACEs. Participation in sports, both as a child and adult, was a further source of resilience to mental illness, with being in current treatment for mental illness reducing from 23 per cent in adults that did not regularly participate in sports to 12 per cent in those that did.
  • Switch: Embracing active travel for health, Final Report, Swennen B, Baltatzi E, Panozzo N, Mayne K and Unbehaun W, European Union, (2016). The Switch project helped planning and transport practitioners conduct organised campaigns designed to get people to ‘switch’ from car journeys to walking and cycling. 
  • Towards More Physical Activity in Cities: Transforming public spaces to promote physical activity — a key contributor to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Europe, World Health Organisation (Europe) and the European Commission, (November 2017). This publication focuses on physical activity and how it can be supported through urban planning. With more than 80% of the European population expected to live in urban areas by 2030, cities play a pivotal role in promoting and protecting health and well-being. As cities continue to expand in population, there is a growing need to develop ways of supporting physical activity in dense urban settings.
  • Value of SwimmingSwim England, (November 2019). As the national governing body for swimming, water polo, diving and synchronised swimming in England, Swim England commissioned this research to build a robust evidence base around the specific benefits of water-based activity. The findings show how swimming can positively contribute to physical and mental wellbeing, to individual and community development, and help to reduce the burden to the health and social care system. Some of the key benefits suggested by this report include that swimming is already reducing health and social care costs by up to £357million a year. This includes estimated savings from dementia, strokes, diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer, depression, and reduced GP and psychotherapy visits by those who swim regularly. Additionally, across the different datasets analysed, a positive association was seen between swimming and: social connectedness; trust (in general and of neighbours); community cohesion; volunteering; percieved ability to achieve goals; life satisfaction; and, health and mental health. 
  • Yet another reason sport is good for you! Roy Morgan Research, Article 6118, (17 March 2015). The latest findings from Roy Morgan Research show that the 1.35 million Australian adults who participate regularly in some kind of team sport are noticeably less likely than the average Aussie to experience depression, anxiety or stress. Between 2013 and 2014, 25% of Australians aged 18+ reported experiencing stress at some point in the preceding 12 months, compared with 21% of those who regularly play a team sport. This difference is most striking among the under-25 age group, with all three conditions being far less common among those who play team sport on a regular basis. Incidence of anxiety fell from 31% to 17%, depression from 17% to 8%, and anxiety from 20% to 10%.

Research iconResearch 

  • 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). Growing evidence documents the importance of physical activity (PA) for brain health, with numerous studies indicating regular engagement in physical activities throughout life may be protective against cognitive decline and dementia in later life. The link between PA and brain health may be different at each stage of life from childhood, mid-life, and late life. This review summarises the current body of evidence linking regular PA and brain health across the lifespan.
    1. During Childhood – Throughout infancy, childhood and adolescence, the brain undergoes dramatic change, with maturational processes occurring concurrently with, and in response to, functional gains in sensory, cognitive and behavioural domains. In particular, the first 5 years of life correspond with significant neurodevelopmental processes. There is growing evidence that regular engagement in PA during childhood can influence gray and white matter integrity, and this may have implications for cognitive development. Bilateral hippocampal volumes have been shown to be markedly increased in fitter, compared to less fit, 9 and 10 year old children and associated with better relational memory performance. PA interventions in childhood have the potential to improve white matter microstructural integrity.
    2. Mid-life – The mid-life stage represents another critical period during which regular engagement in PA may preserve or even improve cognitive health later in life. The key findings from several studies revealed a positive association between PA and larger total brain volume, specifically attributed to increased cerebral gray matter volume, after adjustment for confounding variables (e.g. education, nutrition, socio-economic status). These findings indicate that PA is important and likely influences a range of different biological processes. Whilst the direct relationship between mid-life PA and brain structure is yet to be confirmed, there are a number of other well established indirect relationships between PA and vascular function that should be taken into account.
    3. Older people – Declines in cognitive function can accelerate after age 60, with fluid cognitive processes such as working memory, processing speed and executive function particularly vulnerable to age-related impairment. In a recent investigation using data from a longitudinal heart study, individuals over the age of 60 who scored in the lowest quintile of a PA index also had an increased 10 year risk of dementia incidence compared to those with higher PA. Importantly, results from this study also indicate that greater global and hippocampal brain volume is related to higher levels of PA. These findings are consistent with observations of the neuroprotective effects of exercise from other cross-sectional and longitudinal investigations. The premise that regular participation in PA can exert a neuroprotective effect on the aging brain is supported by research examining the relationship between PA, cardiorespiratory fitness, and the microstructural integrity of the brain white matter.
  • 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, Rochelle M Eime et.al., International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, (2013). This paper presents the results of a systematic review of the psychological and social health benefits of participation in sport by adults. There were many different psychological and social health benefits reported, with the most common being wellbeing and reduced distress and stress. Sport, particularly club-based or team-based sport, seems to be associated with improved psychosocial health in addition to improvements attributable to participation in PA. Notwithstanding this, individuals who prefer to participate in sport by themselves can still derive mental health benefits which can enhance the development of true-self-awareness and personal growth which is essential for social health. The authors also develop a conceptual model of Health through Sport based on the review results but recommend that further research into the causal link between sport and health is required.
  • ACSM Scientific Pronouncements: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, American College of Sports Medicine, (2019). ACSM is pleased to present the scientific reviews underlying the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines. Health professionals, scientists, community organizations and policymakers can use the papers included in the ACSM Scientific Pronouncements: Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition to promote more active, healthier lifestyles for individuals and communities.
  • Amount and Intensity of Leisure-Time Physical Activity and Lower Cancer Risk, Charles E. Matthews, et.al., Journal of Clinical Oncology, (26 December 2019). A total of 755,459 participants (median age, 62 years [range, 32-91 years]; 53% female) were followed for 10.1 years, and 50,620 incident cancers accrued. Engagement in recommended amounts of activity (7.5-15 MET hours/week) was associated with a statistically significant lower risk of 7 of the 15 cancer types studied, including colon (8%-14% lower risk in men), breast (6%-10% lower risk), endometrial (10%-18% lower risk), kidney (11%-17% lower risk), myeloma (14%-19% lower risk), liver (18%-27% lower risk), and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (11%-18% lower risk in women). The dose response was linear in shape for half of the associations and nonlinear for the others. Results for moderate- and vigorous-intensity leisure-time physical activity were mixed. Adjustment for body mass index eliminated the association with endometrial cancer but had limited effect on other cancer types.
  • Associations Between Physical Activity and Depressive Symptoms by Weight Status Among Adults With Type 2 Diabetes: Results From Diabetes MILES–Australia, Melinda J. Craike, et.al., Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Volume 14(3), pp.195-202, (2016). PA is associated with fewer depressive symptoms among adults with Type 2DM, however the amount of PA associated with fewer depressive symptoms varies according to weight status. Lower amounts of PA might be required for people who are obese to achieve meaningful reductions in depressive symptoms compared with those who are healthy weight or overweight. Further research is needed to establish the direction of the relationship between PA and depressive symptoms.
  • Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1·2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: a cross-sectional study, Sammi R Chekroud, et al., The Lancet Psychiatry, Volume 5(9), pp.739-746, (September 2018). This cross-sectional study analysed data from 1,237,194 people aged 18 years or older in the USA from the 2011, 2013, and 2015 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System survey. It compared the number of days of bad self-reported mental health between individuals who exercised and those who did not. The findings indicated that individuals who exercised had 1·49 (43·2%) fewer days of poor mental health in the past month than individuals who did not exercise but were otherwise matched for several physical and socio-demographic characteristics. All exercise types were associated with a lower mental health burden (minimum reduction of 11·8% and maximum reduction of 22·3%) than not exercising. The largest associations were seen for popular team sports (22·3% lower), cycling (21·6% lower), and aerobic and gym activities (20·1% lower), as well as durations of 45 min and frequencies of three to five times per week.
  • Associations of accelerometer-measured physical activity and physical activity-related cancer incidence in older women: results from the WHI OPACH Study, Humberto Parada Jr, Emily McDonald, John Bellettiere, Kelly R. Evenson, Michael J. LaMonte & Andrea Z. LaCroix , British Journal of Cancer, Volume 122, pp.1409–1416, (2020). In this prospective study, 6382 women wore ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometers at the hip for up to 7 days during 2012–2013, and were followed over a median of 4.7 years for diagnosis of 13 invasive cancers. From the analysis the authors conclude that engaging in physical activity may play a beneficial role in the prevention of certain cancers in older women.
  • Association of Daily Step Count and Step Intensity With Mortality Among US Adults, Pedro F. Saint-Maurice, Richard P. Troiano, David R. Bassett Jr., et.al., JAMA, Volume 323(12), pp.1151-1160, (2020). In this observational study that included 4840 participants, a greater number of steps per day was significantly associated with lower all-cause mortality (adjusted hazard ratio for 8000 steps/d vs 4000 steps/d, 0.49). There was no significant association between step intensity and all-cause mortality after adjusting for the total number of steps per day.
  • Association of Team Sports Participation With Long-term Mental Health Outcomes Among Individuals Exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences, Easterlin MC, Chung PJ, Leng M, Dudovitz R. et al., JAMA Pediatrics, Volume 173(7), pp.681-688, (2019). In this study of 9668 individuals from a nationally representative database, among those with adverse childhood experiences, team sports participation during adolescence was significantly associated with better adult mental health outcomes, especially for males, including lower likelihood of having ever received a diagnosis of depression or anxiety and having current depressive symptoms. The findings suggest that participation in team sports is associated with better adult mental health outcomes among individuals exposed to adverse childhood experiences. 
  • Associations of Fitness, Physical Activity, Strength, and Genetic Risk With Cardiovascular Disease: Longitudinal Analyses in the UK Biobank Study, Emmi Tikkanen, Stefan Gustafsson, Erik Ingelsson, Circulation, Volume 137(17), (April 2018). The authors investigated whether or not physical activity demonstrated a reduction in the incidence of cardio vascular disease in both the general population as well as individuals with elevated genetic risk for these diseases. They found that higher grip strength and cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with lower risk of incident coronary heart disease and atrial fibrillation in each genetic risk score group. And, in particular, high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness were associated with 49% lower risk for coronary heart disease and 60% lower risk for atrial fibrillation among individuals at high genetic risk for these diseases.
  • Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity Across the Adult Life Course With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality, Pedro F. Saint-Maurice, et.al., JAMA Network Open, Volume 2(3), (2019). This cohort study of 315,059 participants investigated whether there was an association between patterns in leisure-time physical activity occurring during adolescence (15-18 years of age) or early (19-29 years of age), middle (35-39 years of age), and later (40-61 years of age) adulthood and all-cause or cause-specific mortality? The authors found that maintaining physical activity from adolescence into later adulthood was associated with 29% to 36% lower risk for all-cause mortality and that being inactive but increasing physical activity during midlife was associated with 32% to 35% lower risk for mortality. This suggests that although long-term participation in physical activity may be important to lower mortality risk, the present study provides evidence that becoming physically active later in adulthood (40-61 years of age) may provide comparable health benefits.
  • Association of Leisure-Time Physical Activity With Risk of 26 Types of Cancer in 1.44 Million Adults, Steven C. Moore et al., JAMA Internal Medicine, Volume 176(6), pp.816-825, (June 2016). In this study of pooled data from 12 US and European cohorts, high vs low levels of leisure-time physical activity were associated with lower risks of 13 of 26 cancers. Most of these associations were evident regardless of body size or smoking history.
  • Australian Indigenous youth's participation in sport and associated health outcomes: Empirical analysis and implications (PDF  - 177 KB), Dalton B, Wilson R, Evans J and Cochrane S, Sport Management Review, Volume 18(1), (2015). Analysis of the 2012 Mission Australia Youth Survey (MAYS) finds that among Indigenous youth aged 15–19 years there is a positive relationship between self-reported participation in sport and two health outcomes – rating of overall health and risk of mental health disorder. Indigenous youth who participate in sport are 3.5 times more likely to report good general health and 1.6 times more likely to have no probable serious mental illness. The significance of these findings may address the current gaps in preventive health service delivery to Indigenous communities, and for the development of grassroots, evidence-based, well resourced, culturally sensitive, inclusive and community-led programs.
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Depression, and Physical Activity: Making the Neuroplastic Connection, Cristy Phillips, Neural Plasticity, Volume 2017, Article ID 7260130, (2017). The data presented in this article suggests that moderate physical activity—a target that is practical, well tolerated, and likely to optimise exercise adherence—optimises BDNF and plasticity, particularly in persons with depression. Physical activity is already used as a relatively low-risk treatment option for managing depression, future population health efforts should consider how lifestyle factors can be used to treat and/or prevent mental disorders as part of the rehabilitation process. 
  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Gray Matter Volume in the Temporal, Frontal, and Cerebellar Regions in the General Population, Katharina Wittfeld, et.al., MAYO Clinic Proceedings, Volume 95(1), pp.44-56, (January 2020). To analyze the association between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and global and local brain volumes. Cardiorespiratory fitness was positively associated with GM volume, total brain volume, and specific GM and white matter clusters in brain areas not primarily involved in movement processing. These results, from a representative population sample, suggest that CRF might contribute to improved brain health and might, therefore, decelerate pathology-specific GM decrease.
  • The cascade of positive events: Does exercise on a given day increase the frequency of additional positive events? Kevin C.Young, Kyla A. Machell, Todd B. Kashdan, Margaret L. Westwater, Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 120, pp.299-303, (January 2018). Research suggests exercise promotes well-being while reducing the risk and symptoms of certain psychiatric disorders. Similarly, positive events improve quality of life and may minimize the impact of negative life events; a dearth of positive events is also associated with increased psychiatric symptoms. Thus, increasing physical exercise and the occurrence of positive events is central to well-being promotion. For three weeks, participants (N = 179) completed questionnaires at the end of each day. Multi-level modeling analyses revealed that daily exercise predicted increased positive social and achievement events on the same day. Exercise on one day also predicted greater positive social events on the subsequent day. Positive events did not affect exercise on the next day. Findings suggest that exercise creates a positive cascade, increasing positive social and achievement events experienced on the same day and positive social events on the following day.
  • Childhood Sport Profiles Predict Mental Health in Adolescence, Isabelle Doré, Marie-Pierre Sylvestre, Catherine M Sabiston, Francois Gallant, Conference paper presented at the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity conference, Hong Kong. (June 2018).  This study examines the longitudinal associations between three sport profiles (recreational, performance, non-participation) in childhood and mental health in adolescence. Participants include 756 children age 10-11 years at inception, from the longitudinal Monitoring Activities of Teenagers to Comprehend their Habits (MATCH) study. They self-reported their participation in organized and unorganized PA in questionnaires administered every 4 months over 5 years during class time. Involvement in performance or recreational sport profiles in all 5 years was associated with flourishing mental health, relative to involvement in ≤4 years. the authors conclude that sport participation, especially in performance sport, during childhood and adolescence is associated with higher mental health in adolescence. If replicated, these findings support developing strategies to encourage children to engage and remain involved in sports into adolescence, to positively impact mental health.
  • Contribution of High School Sport Participation to Young Adult Bone Strength, Ward, Ryan C. et al., Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Volume 51(5), pp,1064–1072, (May 2019). This study assessed longitudinal effects of high school sport participation and muscle power on young adult bone strength. It found slightly different effects for male and female sport participants with former male interscholastic sport participants (in both power and non-power sports) having stronger bones than peers even when adjusting for current PA levels. For female interscholastic athletes the association was only with power sport participants. The authors conclude that muscle power alone did not fully explain differences in all bone outcomes, suggesting that sport participation has additional bone health benefits.
  • Does sports club participation contribute to health-related quality of life? Eime R, Harvey J, Brown W and Payne W, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Volume 42(5), (2010). This research looks at how community sports clubs provide opportunities for social interaction through both structured (organised and competitive) and unstructured (social) participation in sport, it has been suggested that involvement in club sport may impact positively on social wellbeing and mental health.
  • Domain-Specific Physical Activity and Mental Health: A Meta-analysis, Rhiannon Lee White, et.al., American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 52(5), pp.653-666, (May 2017). Included studies were published between 1988 and 2015 and had a combined sample size of 648,726. Of the 98 included studies, 93 examined leisure-time physical activity, 14 examined work-related physical activity, 15 examined transport physical activity, 16 examined household physical activity, three examined school sport, and three examined physical education. Multi-level meta-analyses showed that leisure-time physical activity ( r =0.13) and transport physical activity ( r =0.13) both had a positive association with mental health. Leisure-time physical activity ( r = –0.11) and school sport ( r = –0.09) both had an inverse association with mental ill-health. However, physical activity was not consistently associated with lower mental ill-health across domains, as work-related physical activity was positively associated with mental ill-health ( r =0.09). Household physical activity and participation in physical education had no relationship with mental health or mental ill-health. The authors include that the domain in which physical activity occurs influences the relationship between physical activity and mental health and should, therefore, be considered when developing interventions, treatment programs, and policy guidelines.
  • Don't worry, be happy: cross-sectional associations between physical activity and happiness in 15 European countries, Richards J, Jiang X, Kelly P, Chau J, Bauman A and Ding D, BMC Public Health, (31 January 2015). The association between physical activity and a number of markers of mental health (depression, anxiety, self-esteem, etc.) has been widely studied. This research analysed data collected in 2002 from 15 European countries (N=11,500). Self-reported physical activity and happiness were assessed using survey methods. Results showed a dose-response association with higher volumes of physical activity associated with higher levels of happiness. Subjects who were ‘very active’ had a happiness score that was 52% higher than those who were ‘inactive’. Also, when taking into account possible confounding factors, associations remained significant. The intensity of activity didn’t seem to matter too much. However, this study could not determine causation, it may be that happier people choose to be more physically active.
  • The dose–response effect of physical activity on cancer mortality: findings from 71 prospective cohort studies, Li T, Wei S, Shi Y, Pang S, Qin Q, Yin J, Deng Y, Chen Q, Wei S, Nie S and Liu L, British Journal of Sports Medicine, (18 September 2015). Physical activity is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the increasing risk of death from chronic diseases. A meta-analysis was conducted to assess the association between physical activity and cancer mortality and the WHO recommendations to reduce the latter. A total of 71 cohort studies met the inclusion criteria and were analysed. The meta-analysis supports the current physical activity recommendations from WHO to reduce cancer mortality in both the general population and in cancer survivors. The data infer that physical activity after a cancer diagnosis may result in significant protection among cancer survivors.
  • The Economic Burden Of Physical Inactivity: A Global Analysis Of Major Non-Communicable Diseases, Ding Ding, Kenny Lawson, Tracy Kolbe-Alexander, et.al., The Lancet, Volume 388(10051), pp.1311-1324, (September 2016). Conservatively estimated, physical inactivity cost health-care systems international $ (INT$) 53·8 billion worldwide in 2013, of which $31·2 billion was paid by the public sector, $12·9 billion by the private sector, and $9·7 billion by households. In addition, physical inactivity related deaths contribute to $13·7 billion in productivity losses, and physical inactivity was responsible for 13·4 million DALYs worldwide. High-income countries bear a larger proportion of economic burden (80·8% of health-care costs and 60·4% of indirect costs), whereas low-income and middle-income countries have a larger proportion of the disease burden (75·0% of DALYs). Sensitivity analyses based on less conservative assumptions led to much higher estimates.
  • Economic Impact of Moderate‐Vigorous Physical Activity Among Those With and Without Established Cardiovascular Disease: 2012 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Javier Valero‐Elizondo, Joseph A. Salami, Chukwuemeka U. Osondu, et.al., Journal of the American Heart Association, Volume 5(9), (September 2016). The researchers provide evidence that participants reporting moderate‐vigorous PA generally incurred significantly lower health care expenditures and resource utilization, displaying a step‐wise lower total annual health care expenditure as moving from CVD to non‐CVD (and each CRF category). These estimates suggest the significant potential for health care savings through optimizing PA levels as a mean to favorably impact the increasing burden of CVD and associated costs.
  • Effect of aerobic exercise on cognition in younger adults: A randomized clinical trial, Yaakov Stern, et.al., Neurology, (published online 30 January 2019). This randomized clinical trial demonstrates the efficacy of aerobic exercise for cognition in adults age 20–67. The effect of aerobic exercise on executive function was more pronounced as age increased, suggesting that it may mitigate age-related declines. Increased cortical thickness suggests that aerobic exercise contributes to brain health in individuals as young as age 20. 
  • The effects of physical activity and exercise on brain-derived neurotrophic factor in healthy humans: A review. Huang, T., Larsen, K. T., Ried-Larsen, M., Møller, N. C. and Andersen, L.B. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, Volume 24, pp.1–10, (2014). The purpose of this study was to summarize the effects of physical activity and exercise on peripheral brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in healthy humans. Evidence from experimental studies suggested that peripheral BDNF concentrations were elevated by acute and chronic aerobic exercise. The majority of the studies suggested that strength training had no influence on peripheral BDNF. The results from most observational studies suggested an inverse relationship between the peripheral BDNF level and habitual physical activity or cardiorespiratory fitness. More research is needed to confirm the findings from the observational studies.
  • Estimating the future burden of cancers preventable by better diet and physical activity in Australia, Baade P, et.al., Medical Journal of Australia, Volume 196(5), (2012). The objective of this research was to estimate the number of cancers to be diagnosed in 2025 that could be prevented solely due to changes in diet and physical activity. The authors conclude that about 25% of cancers, or about 43 000 cancers in 2025, can potentially be prevented through improvements in diet and physical activity. It is imperative that governments, clinicians and researchers act now if we are to reduce the significant future human and financial burden of cancer.
  • Exercise as medicine – evidence for prescribing exercise as therapy in 26 different chronic diseases, Pedersen B and Saltin B, Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, Volume 25, Issue Supplement S3, (2015). This review provides an up-to-date evidence-based assessment for prescribing exercise as medicine in the treatment of 26 different diseases: psychiatric diseases (depression, anxiety, stress, schizophrenia); neurological diseases (dementia, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis); metabolic diseases (obesity, hyperlipidemia, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome, type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes); cardiovascular diseases (hypertension, coronary heart disease, heart failure, cerebral apoplexy, and claudication intermittent); pulmonary diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, cystic fibrosis); musculo-skeletal disorders (osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, rheumatoid arthritis); and cancer. The effect of exercise therapy on disease pathogenesis and symptoms are given and the possible mechanisms of action are discussed.
  • Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a global perspective (PDF  - 13.5 MB), World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, (2007). This report systematically reviews and assesses the worldwide body of evidence on food, nutrition, physical activity and 17 cancers. An Expert Panel of 21 world-renowned scientists reviewed the findings and made judgements based on the evidence; overall, about 200 scientists and other experts were involved. Chapters 5 and 6 are concerned with physical activity and with body composition, growth, and development. The general recommendation is that persons should be physically active as part of everyday life across the entire lifespan. Adults should be at least moderately active, equivalent to brisk walking for at least 30 minutes every day; as fitness improves, moderate activity should extend to 60 minutes per day or 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity. All forms of physical activity protect against some cancers, as well as against weight gain, overweight, and obesity; correspondingly, sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of many cancers, overweight and obesity.
  • Happier people live more active lives: Using smartphones to link happiness and physical activity, Lathia N, Sandstrom G, Mascolo C and Rentfrow P, PLOS One, (4 January 2017). It appears that physical activity, both exercise and non-exercise, has far-reaching benefits to both physical and mental health. This study examined the relationship between physical activity (measured broadly) and happiness using a smartphone application. This app was used to collect self-reports of happiness and physical activity from over ten thousand participants, while passively gathering information about physical activity from the accelerometers on users' phones. The findings reveal that individuals who are more physically active are happier. Further, individuals are happier in the moments when they are more physically active.
  • Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence, Warburton D, Nicol C and Bredin S, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Volume 174(6), (2006). An evaluation of current literature confirms that there is irrefutable evidence of the effectiveness of regular physical activity in the primary and secondary prevention of several chronic diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity, depression and osteoporosis) and premature death. There appears to be a linear relationship between physical activity and health status, such that even small increases in physical activity and fitness will lead to additional improvements in health status. Health promotion programs using physical activity should target people of all ages, since the risk of chronic disease starts in childhood and increases with age.
  • How the 2018 US Physical Activity Guidelines are a Call to Promote and Better Understand Acute Physical Activity for Cognitive Function Gains, Yu-Kai Chang, et.al., Sports Medicine, Volume 49(11), pp.1625-1627, (November 2019). The new 2018 edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAGA18) released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [1] and directly informed by the 779-page 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report [2] will undoubtedly change how we promote and research physical activity (PA). For the first time, PAGA18 include new insights on the role of a single session of PA for cognitive function and brain health, suggesting that the scientific evidence supporting PA benefits on cognitive function and brain health has matured. In addition, considering the difficulty in initiating and adhering to a long-term exercise program, cognitive function benefits from a single bout may provide a new approach to promote exercise for people who are not ready yet to adopt and adhere to an ongoing habitual exercise routine. 
  • Implementing evidence-based physical activity interventions for people with mental illness: an Australian perspective, Simon Rosenbaum, et.al., Australasian Psychiatry, Volume 24(1), (2016). Evidence supporting the inclusion of PA programs as an adjunct to treatment for various conditions was presented; including depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse. In light of the available evidence, the inclusion of clinical PA programs within mental health treatment, facilitated by dedicated clinicians (exercise physiologists / physiotherapists) was justified.
  • Interrelation of sport participation, physical activity, social capital and mental health in disadvantaged communities: A SEM-analysis, Marlier M, Van Dyck D, Cardon G, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Babiak K and Wilem A, PLOSOne, (9 October 2015). The present study aims to uncover how sport participation, physical activity, social capital and mental health are interrelated by examining these outcomes in one model. A cross-sectional sample from disadvantaged communities in Antwerp, Belgium were surveyed. Adults, aged 18–56 (N=414) were randomly selected and visited at home to fill out a questionnaire on socio-demographics, sport participation, physical activity, social capital and mental health. This study highlighted the importance of sport participation and individual social capital to improve mental health in disadvantaged communities. It further gives additional insights into the interrelated nature of these factors. Implications for policy are that cross-sector initiatives between the sport and the social and health sectors need to be directly linked to one another.
  • Is sport enough? Contribution of sport to overall moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity among adolescents, Harriet Koorts, Anna Timperio, Lauren Arundell, Kate Parker, Gavin Abbott, and Jo Salmon, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, (27 June 2019). Participants (mean 15.3 years, 59% female) spent a mean (SD) of 68.6 (27.4) min/day in MVPA and 50% reported participating in any sport. Those who participated in sport did so 3.4 times/week on average and accumulated 7 min/day of MVPA more than those who did no sport. For each additional sport participated in, on average, there were approximately 5 additional min/day of MVPA. The number and frequency of sports participation explained 3.2% and 3.8% of the variance in MVPA respectively. Participation in field hockey and gymnastics explained 2.2% and 3.6% of the variance in MVPA, respectively. There were no moderating effects. The authors conclude that sport appears to make a very small contribution to adolescents’ average daily physical activity. Effectiveness of approaches to increasing youth population levels of physical activity via sports participation needs to be tested. 
  • Lactate Is an Antidepressant That Mediates Resilience to Stress by Modulating the Hippocampal Levels and Activity of Histone Deacetylases, Nabil Karnib, et.al., Neuropsychopharmacology, Volume 44(6), pp.1152-1162, (May 2019). Chronic stress promotes depression in some individuals, but has no effect in others. Susceptible individuals exhibit social avoidance and anxious behavior and ultimately develop depression, whereas resilient individuals live normally. Exercise counteracts the effects of stress. Our objective was to examine whether lactate, a metabolite produced during exercise and known to reproduce specific brain exercise-related changes, promotes resilience to stress and acts as an antidepressant.
  • Marital Benets of Daily Individual and Conjoint Exercise Among Older Couples, Jeremy Yorgason, et.al., Family Relations: interdisciplinary journal of applied family science, 67, pp.227-239, (April 2018). This article examines daily patterns of exercise among older husbands and wives, as well as how conjoint exercise was related to daily marital functioning outcomes through a sample of 191 older couples included as part of a broader study. Results indicate that individual exercise on a given day was associated with more positive marital events and higher daily marital satisfaction; patterns in these results were more consistent for wives than for husbands. Conjoint exercise on a given day was also associated with nearly all marital outcomes for both husbands and wives.
  • Midlife cardovascular fitness and dementia: a 44-year longitudinal population study in women, Helena Hörder, Lena Johansson, XinXin Guo, et.al., Neurology, (March 2018). Among Swedish women, a high cardiovascular fitness in midlife was associated with a decreased risk of subsequent dementia. Promotion of a high cardiovascular fitness may be included in strategies to mitigate or prevent dementia. Findings are not causal, and future research needs to focus on whether improved fitness could have positive effects on dementia risk and when during the life course a high cardiovascular fitness is most important.
  • Modeling the economic and health impact of increasing children’s physical activity in the United States, Lee B, Adam A, Zenkov E, et.al., Health Affairs, Volume 36(5), (2017). Quantifying the economic and health effects of physical activity intervention programs would help decision makers understand its impact and priority. Using a computational simulation model developed to represent all US children ages 8–11 years, this study estimated that maintaining the current physical activity levels (only 31.9% of children in the U.S. get twenty-five minutes of high-calorie-burning physical activity three times a week) would result each year in a net present value of $1.1 trillion in direct medical costs and $1.7 trillion in lost productivity over the course of their lifetimes. If 50% of children would exercise, the number of obese and overweight youth would decrease by 4.18%, averting $8.1 billion in direct medical costs and $13.8 billion in lost productivity; increasing the proportion of children who exercised to 75% would avert $16.6 billion and $23.6 billion, respectively.
  • Physical activity and annual medical outlay in U.S. colorectal, breast and prostate cancer survivors, Alice F. Yan, Yang Wang, Alexander V. Ng, Preventive Medicine Reports, Volume 9, pp.118-123, (March 2018). Analysis of both physical activity behaviour and health care expenditure for individuals with select cancer locations demonstrated that higher levels of physical activity could provide a significant reduction in health expenditure. Expenditure in adherence group was $9108.8 pa (95% CI 7410.9–10,806.7) versus 12,899.1 pa (95% CI 11,450.2–14,348) in non-adherence group. Stratified analyses revealed cancer survivors who adhered to their PA recommendation saved $4686.1 (1–5 years' survival time) and $2874.5 (11 or more years' survival time) on average pa for total health care expenditure, respectively. These findings have implications for both individuals and governments in relation to potential savings in health expenditure for patients with cancer, and potentially other diseases. 
  • Physical activity and exercise as a universal depression prevention in young people: A narrative review, Michaela C. Pascoe  Alexandra G. Parker, Early Intervention in Psychiatry, Volume 13(4), pp.733-739, (August 2019). The studies reviewed demonstrate a bidirectional relationship between physical activity, exercise and adolescent mental health. The results of the current review suggest that physical activity and exercise programs designed to increase the level of activity in young people should be implemented to be attractive and achievable to young people that may have poor psychological health.
  • Physical activity and health in adolescence (PDF  - 331 KB), Kumar B, Robinson R and Till S, Clinical Medicine, Volume 15(3), (2015). Adolescence represents a critical period of development during which personal lifestyle choices and behaviour patterns are established, including the choice to be physically active. This article reviews the literature on physical activity (PA), health, and physical fitness, and makes a number of observations; including:
    • The proportion of active individuals declines significantly in adolescence, with girls tending to be less active than boys.
    • Studies indicate continuous periods of sedentariness pose more potent health risks than obesity.
    • If everyone (in the population) had a ‘moderate’ level of cardio-respiratory fitness, overall mortality would be reduced by about 17%, whereas if no one were obese, the risk reduction would be approximately 2–3%.
    • There is an inverse correlation between PA and all-cause mortality. Regular PA in youth improves cardiovascular physiology, including blood pressure, lipid profile, insulin sensitivity and endothelial function.
    • The authors advocate a PA ‘prescription’ for all young people as part of their individual healthcare plan.
  • Physical activity and exercise in youth mental health promotion: a scoping review, Michaela Pascoe, Alan Bailey, Melinda Craike, et.al., BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine, Volume 6(1), (23 January 2020). Thirty publications were included. Available evidence suggested that interventions of varying intensity may lead to a reduction in depression symptoms and that moderate-to-vigorous-intensity and light-intensity interventions may reduce anxiety symptoms. Effects of physical activity/exercise interventions on additional mental health outcomes were also shown; however, the number of studies was small, indicating a limited evidence base. Robust research regarding the effects of physical activity/exercise on mental health promotion and as an indicated prevention strategy in young people is lacking.
  • Physical activity and incident chronic diseases: A longitudinal observational study in 16 European countries, de Souto Barreto P, Cesari M, Andrieu S, Vellas B and Rolland Y, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, (13 October 2016). This study examined a large sample of people from 16 European countries to determine the predictive value of physical activity frequency and intensity on the incidence of heart diseases, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and various types of cancer. This study concluded that doing moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at least once a week (which is less than current recommendations in terms of frequency) is associated with reduced risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and diabetes among middle-aged and older adults. In addition, the magnitude of the associations increased with higher frequencies (i.e. more than once per week) for both moderate and vigorous physical activity. 
  • Physical Activity and Incident Depression: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies, Felipe B. Schuch, Davy Vancampfort, Joseph Firth, et.al., American Journal of Psychiatry, (25 April 2018). This study concludes that available evidence supports the notion that physical activity can confer protection against the emergence of depression regardless of age and geographical region. A total of 49 unique prospective studies were identified. Compared with people with low levels of physical activity, those with high levels had lower odds of developing depression. Furthermore, physical activity had a protective effect against the emergence of depression in youths, adults, and elderly persons. Protective effects against depression were found across geographical regions, with adjusted odds ratios ranging from 0.65 to 0.84 in Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania, and against increased incidence of positive screen for depressive symptoms or major depression diagnosis. No moderators were identified.
  • Physical activity and mental well-being in a cohort aged 60–64 years (PDF  - 235 KB), Black S, Cooper R, Martin K, Brage S Kuh D and Stafford M, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 49(2), (2015). This study investigated the associations between physical activity in the form of walking for pleasure with mental wellbeing in a large sample of men and women age 60–64 years. The results showed that participation in walking for pleasure was associated with higher levels of mental wellbeing. Associations were robust when adjustment for gender, long-term limiting illness, educational attainment, financial status, smoking, work status, and personality were considered. 
  • Physical Activity from Childhood to Adulthood and Cognitive Performance in Midlife, Hakala, Juuso O., et.al., Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Volume 51(5), pp.882-890, (May 2019). This study investigated the association between PA from childhood to adulthood and midlife cognitive performance. Cumulative exposure to PA from childhood to adulthood was found to be associated with better midlife reaction time. Furthermore, cumulative PA exposure in young adulthood and adulthood was associated with better visual processing and sustained attention in men. All associations were independent of participants PA level in other measured age frames. Therefore, a physically active lifestyle should be adopted already in childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood and continued into midlife to ensure the plausible benefits of PA on midlife cognitive performance.
  • Physical activity, sports participation, and suicidal behavior among college students, Brown D, Blanton C, Medicine and Science In Sports And Exercise, Volume 34(7), (2002). This study found that sports participation was protective against suicidal behavior among college students in the United States.
  • 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, (2016). Promoting physical activity in the English middle-aged (ages 40 to 65 years) population has the potential to improve population health and increase life expectancy. This research constructed an economic model to estimate the financial benefit to health and social care costs in England. The aim was to determine if preventing or delaying dementia by promoting physical activity could improve population health and reduce government expenditure. It was estimated that if the English population aged 40 to 65 were to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines, life expectancy would increase by 0.23 years and health and social care expenditure would decrease by £400 per person. 
  • Physical exercise and cognitive function across the life span: Results of a nationwide population-based study, Beate Gaertner, et.al., Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Volume 21(5), pp.489-494, (May 2018). In this large, nationwide population-based study of adults aged 18–79 years in Germany, more hours of physical exercise per week were associated with better executive function and memory in cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis with no evidence for differential effects by age,  indicating consistent associations across the adult life span. These findings support public health interventions to increase physical activity to preserve and potentially improve cognitive health over the lifespan. Future studies on physical activity and cognitive function should include broad age ranges and long-term follow-up to maximise understanding of effective interventions across the lifecourse.
  • Relationship between weight status and cognition in children: A mediation analysis of physical fitness components, Abel Ruiz-Hermosa, et.al., Journal of Sports Sciences, Volume 38(1), pp.13-20, (2020).  Cross-sectional study aimed to analyse differences in cognitive performance across fitness components categories (cardiorespiratory fitness [CRF], speed-agility and muscular fitness [MF]) and weight status in children, and to determine whether physical fitness mediates the association between body mass index (BMI) and cognitive performance. Children with normal weight scored better in spatial factor and general intelligence than their overweight/obese peers (p < 0.05), but differences were attenuated when controlling for CRF (p > 0.05). Children with better results in CRF and speed-agility scored better in all cognitive dimensions even after controlling for BMI (p < 0.05). Similarly, children with high MF obtained better scores in verbal factor (p < 0.05). All fitness components acted as mediators of the relationship between BMI and general intelligence (p < 0.05). These findings highlight the crucial role of fitness in minimising the negative effect of excess weight on children’s cognition.
  • Sitting Time, Physical Activity, and Risk of Mortality in Adults, Emmanuel Stamatakis, Joanne Gale, Adrian Bauman, Ulf Ekelund, Mark Hamer and Ding Ding, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Volume 73(16), (April 2019). The purpose of this study was to examine the joint and stratified associations of sitting and moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA) with all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality, and to estimate the theoretical effect of replacing sitting time with physical activity, standing, and sleep. The results indicate that sitting is associated with all-cause and CVD mortality risk among the least physically active adults; moderate-to-vigorous physical activity doses equivalent to meeting the current recommendations attenuate or effectively eliminate such associations.
  • Treating depression with physical activity in adolescents and young adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials, A. P. Bailey, et.al., Psychological Medicine, Volume 48(7), pp.1068-1083, (May 2018). We aimed to establish the treatment effect of physical activity for depression in young people through meta-analysis. Four databases were searched to September 2016 for randomised controlled trials of physical activity interventions for adolescents and young adults, 12–25 years, experiencing a diagnosis or threshold symptoms of depression. While physical activity appears to be a promising and acceptable intervention for adolescents and young adults experiencing depression, robust clinical effectiveness trials that minimise risk of bias are required to increase confidence in the current finding. The specific intervention characteristics required to improve depression remain unclear, however best candidates given current evidence may include, but are not limited to, supervised, aerobic-based activity of moderate-to-vigorous intensity, engaged in multiple times per week over eight or more weeks. Further research is needed. 
  • What about sport? A public health perspective on leisure-time physical activity, Berg B, Warner S and Das B, Sport Management Review, Volume 18(1), (2015). In an effort to determine how sport could be better positioned on the public health agenda, three community physical activity programs aimed at combating obesity were examined to determine the benefits residents seek through their participation. The results reveal that new approaches need to be considered for promoting greater levels of participation in U.S. community sport and other leisure-time physical activity programs. Instead of the commonly emphasized benefits of physical health or appearance, the results demonstrate that hedonic rewards and opportunities for social interaction are two overlooked, yet primary benefits sought by participants. This research suggests that concerted efforts to focus on the hedonic feelings and social aspects can potentially lead to increased sport participation and holistic health. Such an approach may help better address vital public health policy issues while demonstrating the distinctiveness and utility of sport.

Video iconVideos

Australian physical activity (PA) guidelines

    Babies (under 1 year)

    • At least 30 mins a day interactive floor-based play (e.g. reaching, grasping, pushing, pulling, crawling, etc.) 
    • Should not be restrained for more than 60mins at a time; screen time is not recommended
    • Good quality sleep, including naps: 14-17 hours (0-3 months); 12-16 hours (4-11 months) 

    Toddlers (1-2)

    • At least 180 mins a day of energetic play (e.g. running, jumping, twirling, etc.)
    • Should not be restrained for more than 60mins at a time; limit sedentary screen time
    • 11-14 hours good quality sleep, including naps, with consistent routine

    Pre-school (3-5)

    • At least 180mins PA daily;
    • No more than 60mins of sedentary screen use daily;
    • Should not be restrained for more than 60mins at a time.
    • 10-13 hours good quality sleep (may include a nap), with consistent sleep/wake times

    Children and Youth (5-17)*

    • At least 60mins MVPA daily; strength exercises 3 days per week;
    • No more than 120mins sedentary screen time daily;
    • Minimise long periods of sitting.
    • Aim for uninterrupted night-time sleep with consistent routine, 9-11 hours (5-13 years); 8-10 hours (14-17 years)

    Adults (18-64)

    • Be active most days;
    • Accumulate 150-300mins MVPA per week;
    • Strength exercises 2 days per week.
    • Minimise and break up long periods of sitting.

    Older (65+)

    • Be active most days;
    • Aim for 30mins moderate activity per day;
    • Mix of fitness, strength, balance and flexibility.
MVPA = Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity 
*This group includes those aged 5 who are in full-time schooling 

Australian guidelines

Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines and the Australian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines, Department of Health. These guidelines are supported by a rigorous evidence review process, based on the best available evidence relating to the relationship between physical activity (i.e. amount, frequency, intensity and type of physical activity) and health outcome indicators (i.e. risk of chronic disease and obesity), and the relationship between sedentary behaviour (i.e. sitting or lying down for extended periods, except when sleeping) and health outcome indicators.

Reports

  • Physical activity across the life stages. Cat. no. PHE 225, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, (2018). This report presents information on the physical activity and sedentary participation rate of Australians across the life stages, reported against Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines. According to the most recent available data, 30% of children aged 2–17 and 44% of adults aged 18 and over met the physical activity guidelines. Most children exceeded the recommended amount of sedentary screen-based activity time, while the amount of time spent sitting at leisure increased in adults as aged increased.

 

Strategies and policies

Federal
  • Australia: the Healthiest Country by 2020 (PDF  - 835 KB), Australian Government, National Preventive Health Taskforce, Department of Health and Aging, (2009). Interventions that address behavioral change are a central part of the Government’s preventative health strategy. Seven strategic directions are identified: (1) shared responsibility at all levels of government and developing strategic partnerships with non-government sectors; (2) acting early and throughout life with intervention programs; (3) engaging communities in settings where they live, work, play, and go to school; (4) influencing markets; (5) reducing inequity, (6) Indigenous Australians, and; (7) refocus of primary healthcare towards prevention.
    • Taking preventive action (PDF  - 1.2 MB), a response to 'Australia: the Healthiest Country by 2020', Commonwealth Government, (2010). This report proposes a phased approach to the implementation of recommended actions. The first phase of four years initiates priority actions; the second phase builds on these actions, learning from new research and the experiences of program implementation and trials; and the third phase ensures long-term sustained action.
  • Sport 2030 (PDF  - 3.4 MB), Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Health, (2018). Sport 2030 is the vision and the plan for sport and physical activity in Australia over the next 12 years to be delivered in partnership with Australia’s sporting, physical activity, technology, education and corporate community. A key goal of the plan s to 'build a more active Australia' through 'reducing inactivity amongst Australians by 15% by 2030. 
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
  • Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government. In October 2017 the ACT Government moved to incorporate six Active Living Principles into the Territory Plan (Variation 348) [source: A world-first for Canberra: changes to Territory Plan for Active LivingHeart Foundation, (2017)].  Developed in conjunction with the Heart Foundation (ACT) the six Active Living Principles are: Connected places - providing connections between major uses and activity centres; Open space - valuing open spaces, parks and places; Mixed land use and density - encouraging diversity in activities, land uses and development densities; Safe and attractive places - ensuring places are safe and attractive to everyone using that place; Supportive infrastructure - providing supportive infrastructure that encourages regular physical activity; Environments for all - ensuring places are inclusive and have equitable access by all Canberrans. 
    • Healthy Canberra: ACT Preventive Health Plan 2020–2025Australian Capital Territory Government, (2019). We are committed to supporting all Canberrans to make healthy lifestyle choices and to take the steps needed to prevent disease. We recognise that actions by the health sector alone will not be enough to meet this challenge. That’s why we'll be delivering the Healthy Canberra: ACT Preventive Health Plan 2020–2025 in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders. This includes non-government organisations, communities, other government agencies, industry and researchers. The plan outlines five areas we’re focusing on to achieve this: supporting children and families; enabling active living; increasing healthy eating; reducing risky behaviours; promoting healthy ageing. 
    • First Three Year Action Plan (PDF  - 500 KB), Australian Capital Territory Government, (2019). The Action Plan articulates areas for government-led action to support children and families; enable active living; increase healthy eating; reduce risky behaviours; and promote healthy ageing. Implementation of the actions under the Action Plan will be the shared responsibility of all ACT Government Directorates, facilitated by the ACT Health Directorate. There is a strong focus on active transport and providing diverse opportunities for people in the ACT to get active, including sport.  
New South Wales (NSW)
  • NSW Healthy Eating and Active Living Strategy: Preventing overweight and obesity in New South Wales 2013-2018 (PDF  - 2.1 MB). This strategy provides a whole of government framework to promote and support healthy eating and active living in NSW and to reduce the impact of lifestyle-related chronic disease. The Strategy aims to encourage and support the community to make healthy lifestyle changes at a personal level, and create an environment that supports healthier living through better planning, built environments and transport solutions. 
Tasmania (TAS)
Victoria (VIC)
  • Victorian public health and wellbeing plan 2019–2023 (PDF  - 4 MB), Victorian State Government, (2019). The Victorian public health and wellbeing plan 2019–2023 sets the direction and provides a framework for coordinated action, ensuring Victorians of all ages are afforded the opportunity for optimal health and wellbeing so they can participate fully in their community, in education and/or in employment. A key focus area is 'increasing active living' including a focus on increasing active travel; easy access to parks, open and public spaces for physical activity; and integrating healthy lifestyle counselling and referrals within routine health care services. 
  • Physical Activity Strategy 2018-2023VicHealth, (2018). Aims to increase the number of Victorians who are physically active – making being active part of everyday life. Key foci of the strategy are children aged 5-12 years; young people aged 12-17 years; and women and girls.
  • Young people health and wellbeing strategy 2017–19VicHealth, (December 2017). This strategy will contribute to better health and wellbeing in Victoria through the range of actions outlined below. VicHealth’s broader body of work outside this strategy will support these actions at a whole-of-population level. The strategy is partly in response to concerns about rising obesity and decreasing physical activity trends in the youth population. 
Western Australia (WA)
Local government
  • Great Places and Open SpacesPenrith City Council [AUS], (2019). Penrith is about to become a better place for sports, recreation and general outdoor entertainment and relaxation, says Penrith Council Mayor Ross Fowler OAM as a result of the development of a 15-year Sport and Recreation Strategy.

World Health Organisation

  • Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health (PDF  - 1.8 MB), World Health Organisation, (2010). Physical inactivity is now identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. The recommendations set out in this document address three age groups: 5–17 years old; 18–64 years old; and 65 years old and above.


Canada 

Physical activity guidelines have been developed by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology for specific age groups and special populations. The Society updated these guidelines in 2016 to integrate their recommendations on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep to represent behaviour on a 24-hour cycle.


European Union (EU)

  • EU Physical Activity Guidelines: recommended policy actions in support of health-enhancing physical activity (PDF  - 213 KB), EU Working Group ‘Sport and Health’, (2008). School-aged youth should participate in 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily, in forms that are developmentally appropriate, enjoyable, and involve a variety of activities. The full dose can be accumulated in bouts of at least 10 minutes. Development of motor skills should be emphasised in early age groups. Specific types of activity according to the needs of the age group should be addressed: aerobic, strength, weight bearing, balance, flexibility, motor development. For healthy adults aged 18 to 65 years, the goal recommended by the WHO is to achieve a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity 5 days a week or at least 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity 3 days a week. For adults aged over 65, in principle the same goals as for healthy younger adults should be achieved. In addition, strength training and balance exercises to prevent falls are of particular importance in this age group.
  • National physical activity recommendations: systematic overview and analysis of the situation in European countries (PDF  - 427 KB), Kahlmeier S, Wijnhoven T, Alpiger P, Schweizer C, Breda J and Martin B, BMC Public Health, (12 February 2015). Developing national physical activity guidelines and recommendations provide a benchmark for the implementation and assessment of programs that promote physical activity (PA). A systematic review was conducted of the national PA recommendations across 37 of the 53 countries within the European Region. Only 40% of the countries have developed recommendations/guidelines for PA, a necessary first step towards comprehensive PA promotional strategies. In addition, only a few countries have addressed the influences of sedentary behaviours in their recommendations. 


New Zealand (NZ)

Physical Activity, Ministry of Health. The New Zealand Physical Activity Guidelines outline minimum levels of physical activity required to gain health benefits. Guidelines are established for older adults (over the age of 65), adults (ages 18 to 65 years), children and young people (ages 5 to 18 years) and children under the age of 5 years.

  • The guidelines for children under 5 years and children and young people (ages 5-18) were updated in 2017.  
  • Eating and Activity Guidelines for New Zealand Adults (PDF  - 4.4 MB), McIntyre L and Dutton M, New Zealand Ministry of Health, (2015). This document provides evidence-based population health advice on healthy eating and being physically active. The document is written for health practitioners and others who provide advice on nutrition and physical activity for New Zealand adults. The new guidelines bring together the eating and physical activity guidelines, outlining each statement and why it is recommended. This document also identifies the international evidence that underpins the statements and provides some information for putting the statements into practice.
  • Guidelines on Physical Activity for Older People, aged 65 years and olderNew Zealand Government, Ministry of Health, (2013). These guidelines give five key recommendations to help older people live longer, healthier lives. These recommendations are: (1) be as physically active as possible and limit sedentary behaviour; (2) consult an appropriate health practitioner before starting or increasing physical activity; (3) start off slowly and build up to the recommended daily physical activity levels; (4) aim to participate in physical activity on five days per week for at least 30 minutes if the activity is of moderate-intensity, and 15 minutes if it is of vigorous-intensity, or a mixture of moderate and vigorous intensity aerobic activity; (5) aim to do three sessions of flexibility and balance activities, and two sessions of muscle-strengthening activities per week.

Physical activity for healthy, confident kids (PDF  - 3.1 MB), Ministry of Education, (2007). These guidelines, produced by the Ministry of Education and supported by Sport New Zealand, are part of a package of initiatives aimed at improving the lifestyles of young New Zealanders by targeting improved nutrition and increased physical activity. 


United Kingdom (UK)

Physical activity guidelines: UK Chief Medical Officers' reportDepartment of Health and Social Care, (7 September 2019). A report from the Chief Medical Officers in the UK on the amount and type of physical activity people should be doing to improve their health. The report contains guidance for health professionals, policymakers and others working to promote physical activity, sport and exercise for health benefits. 


United States

  • Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2nd edition), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (2018). This second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provides science-based guidance to help people ages 3 years and older improve their health through participation in regular physical activity. It reflects the extensive amount of new knowledge gained since the publication of the first Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, released in 2008. This edition of the Guidelines discusses the proven benefits of physical activity and outlines the amounts and types of physical activity recommended for different ages and populations.
  • 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee: Scientific Report, 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (February 2018). The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee submitted its Scientific Report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services in February 2018. The report summarizes the scientific evidence on physical activity and health, and will be used by the government to develop the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. This report provides a comprehensive review of the various benefits that can be attributed to physical activity including physical and mental benefits for all ages. The report also highlights that any increase in physical activity is beneficial, even for people who are not currently meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines.  

World Health Organisation (WHO) 

  • Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030: more active people for a healthier world (PDF  - 1.5 MB), World Health Organisation, (2018). WHO has developed a new global action plan to help countries scale up policy actions to promote physical activity. It responds to the requests by countries for updated guidance, and a framework of effective and feasible policy actions to increase physical activity at all levels. The plan sets out four objectives (create active societies, active environments, active people and active systems) and recommends 20 evidence-based policy actions that are applicable to all countries and address the cultural, environmental and individual determinants of inactivity.


Canada

  • Active Canada 20/20: A physical activity plan for Canada, Spence J, Faulkner G, Bradstreet C, Duggan M and Tremblay M, Canadian Journal of Public Health, Volume 106(8), (2015). Physical inactivity is a major public health concern in Canada. To date, Canada’s approach to increasing population physical activity has been fragmented and has lacked coordination, funding, and a strategic approach. Active Canada 20/20 provides both a national plan and a commitment to action from non-government as well as the public sector to engage the general public. It outlines a road map for initiating, coordinating, and implementing proactive initiatives to address the prominent health risk factor that inactivity presents. 


Finland

  • Physical Activity Programme (PDF  - 809 KB), City of Helsinki [Finland], (2019). The City of Helsinki is highlighting the promotion of physical activity as a strategic spearhead project. Physical activity is being integrated into the City of Helsinki’s basic operations, budget planning and divisional targets as part of the promotion of wellbeing and health. The actions of the Physical Activity Programme are targeted at the overall system, community and environment, as well as the individual level. Over the next three years, approximately 60 actions will make physical activity a visible part of the everyday lives of residents.  


New Zealand (NZ)

  • Sport New Zealand 2020-2032 Strategic DirectionSport New Zealand, (September 2019). Sport NZ ‘s vision is simple - to get Every Body Active in Aotearoa New Zealand. 
  • Hamilton City Council's Play Strategy 2019-2039 (PDF  - 12.9 MB), Hamilton City Council [NZ], (2019). It is widely recognised that physical activity has a range of benefits for individuals and broader society. Hamilton City Council’s Play Strategy aims to provide a range of opportunities for people to engage in physical activity across Hamilton City. In order to ensure that these opportunities are available to as many people as possible, we have defined organised sport, informal recreation and ‘pop-up’/spontaneous play as ‘play’. 


United Kingdom (UK)

  • A more active Scotland: Scotland's Physical Activity Delivery Plan (PDF  - 1.1 MB), Scottish Government, (June 2018). The Active Scotland Outcomes Framework sets out the shared vision and goals which have shaped the approach the Scottish Government and a wide range of partner organisations have taken to supporting and enabling people in Scotland to be more physically active. The identified actions and outcomes align with the WHO Global Action Plan.  
  • Sport for Life: A vision for sport in ScotlandSport Scotland, (April 2019). The new corporate strategy launched by sportscotland, outlines our vision, mission and assets and the approach we take.
  • Sporting Future: A new strategy for an active nation (PDF  - 1.2 MB), Ministry for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, United Kingdom, (December 2015). At the heart of the Government’s strategy are five simple, but fundamental outcomes of participation in sport and physical activity: (1) physical health; (2) mental health; (3) individual development; (4) social and community development; and (5) economic development. It is these outcome that will define how governments (federal and local) prioritise and fund programs. 


United States

  • Healthy People 2020, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, (2010). This is an initiative of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Healthy People provides a science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. Benchmarks and monitored progress over time is provided to: (1) encourage collaborations across communities and sectors; (2) empower individuals to make informed health decisions; and (3) measure the impact of prevention activities. The physical activity objectives for Healthy People 2020 reflect the strong state of the science supporting the health benefits of regular physical activity among youth and adults. Regular physical activity includes participation in moderate and vigorous physical activities and muscle-strengthening activities.
  • National Physical Activity Plan 2016 (PDF  - 9.6 MB). The 2016 Plan builds on the first U.S. National Physical Activity Plan, which was released in 2010. It is a collaboration of nine sectors: business and industry; community recreation; fitness and parks; education; faith-based settings; media; public health; sport; and transportation. The Plan is grounded in a socio-ecological model of health behaviour. This model holds that physical activity behaviour is influenced by a broad constellation of factors operating at the personal, family, institutional, community and policy levels. Sustainable behaviour change is most likely when influences at all the levels are aligned to support change. The Plan includes recommendations for actions at the national, state, local and institutional levels, but fundamentally it is a roadmap for change at the community level that facilitates personal behaviour change.  

Finder iconPosition Statements and policy papers

  • A Healthier Start for VictoriansVicHealth, (18 July 2019). This consensus statement outlines practical recommendations to the Victorian Government to turn the tide on obesity. The focus is on children and young people to give them the best chance for a healthier start to life. Key actions relating to physical activity include: Engage and support local communities to develop and lead their own healthy eating and physical activity initiatives; Support schools to increase students’ physical activity and physical literacy; and, Develop and implement a strategy to get Victorians walking more. 
  • The ABC of physical activity for health: A consensus statement from the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (PDF  - 293 KB), O’Donovan G, et.al.,Journal of Sports Sciences, Volume 28(6), (2010). The British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences convened a panel of experts to review the literature and produce guidelines that health professionals might use.
  • Active school travel: pathways to a healthy future, Australian Health Policy Collaboration, (January 2019). This policy paper is the work of a national collaboration of leading experts, researchers and practitioners working in health, education, transport, public health and policy. This three-part policy framework will support and encourage 3.7 million Australian school children, their families, carers and communities to be supported and participate in active travel to and from school.
  • Consensus Statement on the Role of Accredited Exercise Physiologists in the Treatment of Cancer: A Guide for All Health Professionals Involved in the Care of People with CancerExercise and Sport Science Australia (ESSA), (2019). This consensus statement has been developed in consultation with Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs) with expertise in cancer care and oncology specialists representing disciplines involved with the multidisciplinary cancer care team. The statement aims to: define the scope and capacity of AEP services in cancer care; provide insight as to how AEPs can contribute to the multidisciplinary cancer team; raise awareness of the role of AEPs in cancer care; » inform health professionals how to access AEP services; and, outline the impact of AEP interventions for people with cancer.
  • Consensus Statement on the Role of Accredited Exercise Physiologists in the Treatment of Cancer: A Guide for All Health Professionals Involved in the Care of People with Cancer (for consumers)Exercise and Sport Science Australia (ESSA), (2019). This consensus statement has been developed by experts and talks about how including an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) in your cancer care team can help you improve your physical and mental health and wellbeing before, during and after your cancer treatment.
  • COSA Position Statement on Exercise in Cancer Care (PDF  - 3.1 MB), Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA), (October 2019). This document outlines the position of COSA with respect to exercise recommendations, taking into account the strengths and limitations of the epidemiological and clinical trials evidence base. COSA recommends that: 
    • All people with cancer should avoid inactivity and return to normal daily activities as soon as possible following diagnosis (i.e. be as physically active as current abilities and conditions allow) 
    • All people with cancer should progress towards and, once achieved, maintain participation in: at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g. walking, jogging, cycling, swimming) each week; and two to three resistance exercise (i.e. lifting weights) sessions each week involving moderate to vigorous-intensity exercises targeting the major muscle groups.
    • Exercise recommendations should be tailored to the individual’s abilities noting that specific exercise programming adaptations may be required for people with cancer based on disease and treatment-related adverse effects, anticipated disease trajectory and their health status 
    • Accredited exercise physiologists and physiotherapists are the most appropriate health professionals to prescribe and deliver exercise programs to people with cancer.
    • All health professionals involved in the care of people with cancer have an important role in promoting these recommendations
  • Exercise medicine in cancer management: Exercise and Sports Science Australia position statement, Exercise and Sport Science Australia, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Volume 22(11), pp.1175-1199, (November 2019). This document represents ESSA’s exercise and cancer position statement and has the purpose of guiding individualised, targeted exercise prescription to cancer patients through the application of evidence, clinical experience and exercise principles.
  • Exercise Guidelines for Cancer Survivors: Consensus Statement From International Multidisciplinary Roundtable, Kristin L Campbell, et.al., Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Volume 51(11), pp.2375-2390, (November 2019). The number of cancer survivors worldwide is growing, with over 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States alone-a figure expected to double in the coming decades. Cancer survivors face unique health challenges as a result of their cancer diagnosis and the impact of treatments on their physical and mental well-being. For example, cancer survivors often experience declines in physical functioning and quality of life while facing an increased risk of cancer recurrence and all-cause mortality compared with persons without cancer. The proposed recommendations should serve as a guide for the fitness and health care professional working with cancer survivors. More research is needed to fill remaining gaps in knowledge to better serve cancer survivors, as well as fitness and health care professionals, to improve clinical practice.
  • Parks and Leisure Australia & Partners Advocacy MessagesParks and Leisure Australia, (2019). We are the People behind the Places that encourage healthy and active communities. The planners, the architects and custodians of Australia’s parks, bushlands, gardens, sports facilities, leisure centres and trails. We are concerned about the poor health of our nation. We need to rethink our approach to addressing obesity and physical inactivity. Parks and Leisure Australia argues there is a need for a bigger investment in the future health of Australians.
  • Physical Activity 2014Australian Medical Association, Position Statement, (2014). While physical activity forms part of the body’s energy balance equation, all too often the benefits of physical activity are only considered in relation to obesity and weight loss. The benefits of physical activity extend much further. Regular participation in physical activity is known to reduce the risk of physical health problems such as cardiovascular disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, some cancers and osteoporosis. There is also evidence that regular participation in physical activity improves both short- and long- term psychosocial wellbeing by reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Physical activity/exercise and diabetes: A Position Statement of the American Diabetes Association, Colberg S, et.al., BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care, Volume 39(11), (2016). The adoption and maintenance of physical activity are critical factors for blood glucose management and overall health in individuals with diabetes and prediabetes. Recommendations and precautions vary depending on individual characteristics and health status. In this Position Statement, the American Diabetes Association provides a clinically oriented review and evidence-based recommendations regarding the role of physical activity and exercise for people with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes mellitus, and prediabetes.
  • Sport Participation and Play: How to Get More Australians Moving, Westerbeek, H, Eime, R, Biddle, S, Bradley, R, Garnham, A, Olds, T, O’Donnell, B, Schranz, N, Telford, D, Vella, S, Fetherston, H & Calder, R, Mitchell Institute, Victoria University, (April 2019). This paper responds to, and proposes policy objectives and strategies to support effective implementation of, the aims of Sport 2030, Australia’s first national sports plan, which was released in mid-2018 and is described as “a comprehensive plan to reshape the face of Australian sport and build a healthier, more physically active nation”. Sport 2030 recognises that participation in ‘sport for all’ is a significant challenge that is important to the health of the nation as well as to pathways to elite sport. 

Video iconVideo

  • How long have you been sitting there? National Heart Foundation of Australia/YouTube, (30 April 2018). Video to promote the message that 'any physical activity is better than none'. Advises people to get active in small bouts, building up to meeting the current Australian PA guidelines for most adults (30 minutes of moderate activity; 5 times per week), and references potential health benefits, particularly for the heart.  

How active are Australians?

    Pre-school (2-5)

    • Only 25% children aged 2-5 meet the recommended limits for sedentary screen-based behaviour.

    Children and Youth (5-17)

    • Only 26% of children (5-12 years) and 20.8% (15-17) fully meet the recommended MVPA guidelines.
    • Only 35% of children (5–12) and 20% of children (13–17) meet the recommended limits for sedentary screen-based behaviour.
    • Boys (13-17) were least likely to meet this guideline—15% meeting compared with 26% of girls (13-17).

    Adults (18-64)

    • AIHW data (2018) estimated 48% of Australian adults (18-64 years) meet the MVPA guidelines. AusPlay data (2020) estimates 34.3% of Australian adults (15+) do. 
    • Only 24% meet the strength-based activity guideline. 
    • Only 19% meet both the MVPA and strength-based activity guidelines.

    Older (65+)

    • Only 25% of older people fully meet the recommended physical activity guidelines (30mins at least 5x per week). 
    • 84% do no strength-based activities.
    • Fewer than 1 in 10 (6.5%) meet both physical activity and strength guidelines. 

    Priority groups

    • Differences exist between different socio-economic (SES) groups and between indigenous and non-indigenous groups. 
    • People in higher SES groups are more likely to meet guidelines. 
    • Indigenous children are generally more active than non-indigenous; Indigenous adults are generally less active than non-indigenous.
*Primary data sources: AusPlay survey', Sport Australia, (updated April 2020) and 'Physical activity across the life stages', Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, (2018).

Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.

Report iconReports

  • Active Healthy Kids Australia (AHKA) Report Cards. Produced biennially the AHKA Report Cards synthesises the best available Australian evidence in order to assign grades to physical activity indicators, and provides a national snap shot of the current levels of physical activity in Australian children and young people. A Global Matrix also allows the results to be benchmarked against other countries to help identify areas of strength and weakness. Since the first Report Card in 2014 Australia has had an assessed grade of 'D-' for physical activity. The most recent report was released in December 2018. 
  • Australia’s Health 2018Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Catalogue Number AUS 221, (2018). Every two years the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) compiles a national report card on the health of Australians. A comprehensive range of health metrics are reported, including population statistics on bodyweight (e.g. underweight, normal, overweight and obese) and compliance with physical activity guidelines. Almost two-thirds (63%) of Australians aged 18 and over, and more than one-quarter (28%) of children aged 5–17 are overweight or obese. Overweight and obesity, when considered together with insufficient physical activity, is estimated to account for 9% of the total disease burden in Australia—the same as tobacco smoking (the leading risk factor). An extra 15 minutes of brisk walking by each person 5 days a week could cut Australia’s disease burden due to insufficient physical activity by about 14%. If this time rose to 30 minutes, the burden could be reduced by 26%.
  • Older Australians at a glanceAustralian Institute of Health and Welfare, Catalogue Number AGE 87, (10 September 2018). This report provides an overview of this diverse and growing population group through a range of topics. These outline older people’s demographic characteristics, health status, and service use. Older people make up a considerable proportion of Australia’s population—in 2017, over 1 in 7 people were aged 65 and over. 7 in 10 older people are overweight or obese and only 2 in 5 reported being sufficiently active during the preceding week. 
  • Physical activity across the life stages. Cat. no. PHE 225, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, (2018). This report presents information on the physical activity and sedentary participation rate of Australians across the life stages, reported against Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines. According to the most recent available data, 30% of children aged 2–17 and 44% of adults aged 18 and over met the physical activity guidelines. Most children exceeded the recommended amount of sedentary screen-based activity time, while the amount of time spent sitting at leisure increased in adults as aged increased.
  • Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour: Research and StatisticsDepartment of Health Australia, (last updated 21 November 2017). This page contains scientific evidence review reports and key facts and figures regarding physical activity and sedentary behaviour. 
  • Physical Activity During COVID-19 Lock-Down: insights into Australian's physical activity and fitness during the COVID-19 shut-down (PDF  - 360 KB), Gemba, (29 April 2020). Despite the visible signs of families cycling, walking and running through the suburbs, 44% of Australians are doing less physical activity now than before the Coronavirus lockdown. A quarter of Australians have taken up a new form of exercise during the lockdown, and many are embracing online fitness – especially women and under-30s. There is not an obvious correlation between increased physical activity and whether or not someone is finding the lockdown challenging for their mental health.
  • Report Card, the wellbeing of young Australians (PDF  - 4.6 MB), Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, (March 2013). This report compares the status of Australian children and youth (ages 5 to 24 years) against the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations, and notes trends over time. In the section ‘what does it mean to be healthy’ the report states that 30 per cent of Australian children and youth are overweight or obese and 57 per cent do not achieve the recommended level of daily physical activity.

Finder iconStatistics 

  • AusPlay Survey (AusPlay) is a Sport Australia led independent research project at the population level which measures all types of activities in a consistent and comparable way. Sport Australiua will use AusPlay information to fill in the gaps in national sport and physical recreation data on children, following the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ decision in 2014 to cease data collection. 
    • Sport and Physical Activity Participation and the Health Guidelines, Sport Australia, (April 2020). First estimates based on the AusPlay data of how many Australians (aged 15+) were meeting the Australian MVPA physical activity guidelines. The data currently does not support estimating how many meet the strength-based or screen-based guidelines. 
  • Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: Physical activity 2012-13, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4727.0.55.004, (2014). This ABS survey looked at the level of physical activity and sedentary activity of pre-school children age 2 to 4 years; children and young people age 5 to 17 years and; adults 18 years and older. This ABS report found that toddlers and pre-schoolers in non-remote areas spent an average of 6.6 hours per day on physical activity and more time outdoors than non-Indigenous children of the same age (3.5 hours compared to 2.8 hours). They also averaged 1.5 hours of sedentary screen-based activities such as watching TV, DVDs or playing electronic games. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and youth in non-remote areas spent 2.5 hours per day on physical activity, 25 minutes more than non-Indigenous children of the same age and well above the recommended one hour per day. Almost half (48%) of Indigenous children living in non-remote areas met the physical activity level recommended for health. 
  • Children’s Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, Australia, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4901.0, (2013). The most recent ABS survey of children’s sport and physical activity participation indicated that, in the 12 months prior to the survey, an estimated that 60% of all children aged 5 to 14-years participated in at least one organised sport activity outside of school hours. The highest participation rate, 66%, was among the 9-11 age-group and the lowest participation rate, 56%, was among children aged 5-8 years. On average, children who participated spent five hours per fortnight playing and/or training in organised sport outside of school hours. Participation rate varied among the states and territories, with the Australian Capital Territory the highest (73%) and the Northern Territory the lowest (54%). Children’s participation was higher when both parents were born in Australia, compared to both parents born in other countries.
  • National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4364.0.55.001, (2015). In 2014-15, 63.4% of Australian adults were overweight or obese (11.2 million people). This is similar to the prevalence of overweight and obesity in 2011-12 (62.8%) and an increase since 1995 (56.3%). Around one in four (27.4%) children aged 5-17 years were overweight or obese, similar to 2011-12 (25.7%). In 2014-15, 55.5% of 18-64 year olds participated in sufficient physical activity in the last week (more than 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or more than 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both, including walking). Nearly one in three (29.7%) were insufficiently active (less than 150 minutes in the last week) while 14.8% were inactive (no exercise in the last week).
  • Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation, Australia, 2013-14, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4177.0, (2015). This report provides details about persons aged 15-years and over who participated in a sport or physical recreational activity at least once during the 12 months prior to interview. Among the Australian population, aged 15 years and over, an estimated 60% reported that they had participated in sport and physical recreation at least once during the 12 months prior to the survey. This is down from 65% in the 2011-12 survey. Adult participation generally decreased with age, peaking during the 15–17 age-group at 74% and declining to 47% in the 65 years and older group. Walking for exercise continued to be the most popular physical recreational activity for adults (15 years and over); women were more likely to walk for exercise than men. The overall participation rate in organised sport, as a player or in a non-playing role (such as a coach or official) was 28% of all adults. There were variations by age-group and gender, with the 15-24 year age-group having the highest participation and the 65 years and over the lowest, at 44% and 17% respectively. The report also provides a more detailed breakdown of statistics for ‘organised’ and ‘non-organised’ sport and physical recreation activities. Walking as a recreational activity or as a means of active transport (e.g. adults walking to work or children walking to school) is an excellent means of achieving the recommended daily physical activity.
  • Profiles of Health, Australia 2011-13, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4338.0, (2013). 62.8% of Australians aged 18 years and over were overweight or obese; this total is comprised of 35.3% overweight and 27.5% obese. A further 35.5% of the adult population were of normal weight and 1.7% were underweight. The prevalence of adult overweight and obesity has increased in Australia over the past twenty years.

How can we get more Australians moving, more often?

Insufficient physical activity, when considered together with overweight and obesity prevalence, account for 9% of the total disease burden in Australia—the same as tobacco smoking (the leading risk factor). 63% of Australians aged 18+ and 28% of children aged 5-17 are overweight or obese. 

If all Australians met the current PA guidelines (particularly the MVPA guidelines) the burden of physical inactivity related disease could be reduced by 26%. This would save the Australian economy an estimated AU$193.2m annually in direct (healthcare expenditure) and indirect (loss of tax revenue, private sector/health insurance, and household out-of-pocket expenses) costs.

To improve physical activity levels, programs, strategies and policies are needed across multiple settings and levels of focus. Physical activity should be integrated into the settings where people live, work and play. Active transport, walking and cycling, enable physical activity participation on a daily basis; sport and active recreation can help promote physical activity for people of all ages and abilities; environments need to be safe, attractive and conductive to active living; and healthcare, education and workplace settings are ideal sites for physical activity promotion, as they reach a large proportion of the population.  

Frequently identified barriers to participation include: time, cost, transport, and access to facilities and equipment. For older Australians (65+) poor health or injury are cited as barriers by almost half of the population (48%). 

For more information about factors influencing sport and physical activity participation, e.g. cost, competence (physical literacy), cultural, geographical, socio-economic, organisational capacity, and more, see the Clearinghouse Sport Participation in Australia topic. 

Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.

 Report iconReports

  • Australia’s Health 2018Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Catalogue Number AUS 221, (2018). Every two years the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) compiles a national report card on the health of Australians. A comprehensive range of health metrics are reported, including population statistics on bodyweight (e.g. underweight, normal, overweight and obese) and compliance with physical activity guidelines. Almost two-thirds (63%) of Australians aged 18 and over, and more than one-quarter (28%) of children aged 5–17 are overweight or obese. Overweight and obesity, when considered together with insufficient physical activity, is estimated to account for 9% of the total disease burden in Australia—the same as tobacco smoking (the leading risk factor). An extra 15 minutes of brisk walking by each person 5 days a week could cut Australia’s disease burden due to insufficient physical activity by about 14%. If this time rose to 30 minutes, the burden could be reduced by 26%.
  • The cost of physical inactivity (PDF  - 233 KB), Medibank Private, (October 2008). The modelling approach used in this research to estimate the costs of physical inactivity to the Australian economy is separated into three parts: healthcare costs; economy wide productivity costs; and mortality costs. In 2008, the total economic cost of physical inactivity is estimated to be $13.8 billion.
  • The costs of illness attributable to physical inactivity in Australia: A preliminary study (PDF  - 964 KB), Stephenson J, Bauman A, Armstrong T, Smith B and Bellew B, Australian Government, Department of Health and Aged Care and the Australian Sports Commission, (2000). This discussion paper presents a preliminary analysis of the costs of illness attributable to physical inactivity, with particular emphasis on coronary heart disease, non-insulin dependent diabetes, and colon cancer. Other costs of illness attributable to physical inactivity are described, although in less detail. 
  • Impact and causes of illness and death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2011, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, (2016). This comprehensive report aims to provide detailed information about the burden of disease experienced by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in 2011 (the year with the best data available when this study commenced), how it has changed since 2003, and how it compares to the non-Indigenous population. This study looked at 29 different risk factors and found that the most important were: (1) tobacco and alcohol use; (2) dietary factors; (3) overweight; (4) lack of exercise; (5) high blood pressure; and (6) high blood sugar. These risk factors led to increased rate of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, kidney disease, and some cancers among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. The health risk attributed to physical inactivity decreased by 8% from 2003 to 2011, but the gap (Indigenous vs non-Indigenous) in non-fatal health burden remains.
  • Impact of physical inactivity as a risk factor for chronic conditions: Australian Burden of DiseaseAustralian Institute of Health and Welfare, Catalogue Number BOD 16, (2017). This report details the impact of physical inactivity on disease burden in the Australian population. Results from this study suggest that prevention and intervention efforts may best be focused on sustained population-level increases in physical activity, by as little as 15 minutes each day, to avoid associated disease burden. It also highlights that health inequalities exist, with lower socioeconomic groups experiencing larger rates of disease burden due to physical inactivity.
  • Report Card, the wellbeing of young Australians (PDF  - 4.6 MB), Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth, (March 2013). This report compares the status of Australian children and youth (ages 5 to 24 years) against the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations, and notes trends over time. In the section ‘what does it mean to be healthy’ the report states that 30 per cent of Australian children and youth are overweight or obese and 57 per cent do not achieve the recommended level of daily physical activity.

Research iconResearch

  • An international perspective on the nexus of physical activity research and policy, Pratt M, Salvo D, Cavill N, Giles-Corti B, McCue P, Reis R, Jauregui A and Foster C, Environment and Behavior, Volume 48(1), (2016). The process of translating research to policy is influenced by a complex interplay of factors. The authors contend that physical activity is the “best buy” in public health; yet widespread application of this evidence occurs infrequently, from an international perspective. Evidence on how to increase physical activity at the community level has mounted steadily over the past decades and many reports and papers conclude with calls for better translation of research into policy and practice. There are good examples of research guiding physical activity policy and practice, but more often public policy that influences physical activity is driven from outside a public health rationale. Policy decisions tend to be made independent of research and often use different data sets. Active living research may not always resonate with policy makers, but this does not suggest that research has no role in guiding public policy. Compounding the research-policy nexus is a lack of international consensus on which interventions are most effective. This report offers case studies from four countries – United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil and Mexico to illustrating the research-policy relationship. The authors conclude that in Australia the translation of research to policy has been facilitated by explicitly brokering the relationship across several sectors (e.g. health, sport/recreation, education, community development, etc.). As a result of this process there are many good examples in Australia of research findings systematically being incorporated into national, state, and local policy.
  • Associations Between Behavior Regulation, Competence, Physical Activity, and Health for Adolescent Females, Melinda Jane Craike, et.al., Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Volume 11(2), pp.410-418, (2014). This study investigated the association between the different types of behavior regulation and competence on sport and physical activity (PA) and perceived health, and the influence of school year level (ie, year 7 and year 11) and setting (ie, metropolitan and rural) on these relationships. The findings suggest that strategies that enhance intrinsic motivation and PA competence may improve the health of adolescent females; enhancing these may lead to greater health regardless of level of PA.
  • The CDC guide to strategies to increase Physical Activity in the community (PDF  - 1.1 MB), United States Department of Health and Human Services, (2011). This document provides guidance for policy makers and program managers on selecting strategies to increase physical activity in the community. Physical activity is one of the key elements in any preventive health strategy. From a public health perspective, some strategies merit a higher priority than others—such as community wide campaigns that increase access to places and spaces for physical activity; programs integrating a socio-ecological perspective; and programs that enhance physical education in schools. Campaigns characterised by a ‘brand’ message or ‘tag line’ that is used consistently through all means and channels of communication also should include on-the-ground components; such as: support and self-help groups; physical activity counseling; risk factor screening; education at work sites and in schools; community health fairs and other community events. Ideally, they should also include policy and environmental changes, such as opening school facilities to public use and creating walking or cycling trails.  
  • Correlates of Physical Activity Among Disadvantaged Groups: A Systematic Review, Craike, Melinda, et.al., American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 57(5). pp.700-715, (2019). The aim of this systematic review was to identify consistent correlates of unspecified physical activity and leisure-time physical activity among socioeconomically disadvantaged adults. Seventy-three studies were selected for synthesis; 48 examined unspecified physical activity and 31 examined leisure-time physical activity (6 examined both). Self-rated health, functional capacity, and physical activity self-efficacy were consistently, positively associated with unspecified physical activity. Mental health status and perceived benefits and enjoyment of physical activity were consistently, positively associated with leisure-time physical activity.
  • Cost-effectiveness of interventions to promote physical activity: A modeling study, Cobiac L, Vos T and Barendregt, PLOS Medicine, (14 July 2009). This study evaluated the cost-effectiveness of physical activity intervention programs in Australia. There are many options for intervention; from individually tailored counselling, to population-wide mass media campaigns. Based on current evidence, interventions that encourage use of pedometers (i.e. tracking daily physical activity) and mass media-based community campaigns are the most cost-effective strategies and are very likely to be cost-saving in the long-term. Programs that encourage more active transport also have a high probability of being under the cost-effectiveness threshold. The least cost-effective strategies included referrals by a medical professional to specific programs; these interventions involved high time and travel costs for patient screening, consulting, and counseling. This review concluded that despite substantial variability in the quantity and quality of evidence on intervention effectiveness, and uncertainty about the long-term sustainability of behavioural changes, it is highly likely that a package of intervention strategies can lead to substantial improvement in population health at a cost saving to the health sector. The exact composition of multiple strategies which may be ‘most’ cost-effective is still unknown.
  • Economic analysis of physical activity interventions, Williams C, Chung-Wei C and Jan S, British Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 46(6), (2012). This systematic review investigated the cost effectiveness of physical activity intervention programs. Ninety-one studies met the review criteria and were evaluated. An expenditure of US$0.50–US$1.00 per metabolic equivalent (MET) hours gained per person per day was used as the benchmark for cost effectiveness. In general, physical activity interventions met or exceeded the cost effectiveness benchmark. The review identified that while low-cost strategies designed to reach large masses of the public are more cost effective in increasing participation, they are limited by the amount of physical activity they increase. As such, intensive interventions may be more appropriate for populations where higher levels of physical activity are desired. The authors caution that results are based on a narrow economic model, with costs associated with the interventions only. Also, potential benefits of intervention programs may extend beyond increased physical activity alone.
  • The Economic Burden Of Physical Inactivity: A Global Analysis Of Major Non-Communicable Diseases, Ding Ding, Kenny Lawson, Tracy Kolbe-Alexander, et.al., The Lancet, Volume 388(10051), pp.1311-1324, (September 2016). Conservatively estimated, physical inactivity cost health-care systems international $ (INT$) 53·8 billion worldwide in 2013, of which $31·2 billion was paid by the public sector, $12·9 billion by the private sector, and $9·7 billion by households. In addition, physical inactivity related deaths contribute to $13·7 billion in productivity losses, and physical inactivity was responsible for 13·4 million DALYs worldwide. High-income countries bear a larger proportion of economic burden (80·8% of health-care costs and 60·4% of indirect costs), whereas low-income and middle-income countries have a larger proportion of the disease burden (75·0% of DALYs). Sensitivity analyses based on less conservative assumptions led to much higher estimates.
  • Review of physical activity among Indigenous people (PDF  - 1.0 MB), Gray C, Macniven R and Thomson N, Australian Indigenous Health Reviews, Number 13, (2013). For some Indigenous people, concepts of space, time and activities differ from those for most non-Indigenous people. Therefore, physical activity guidelines that specify regular frequency, duration and types of activity can be inappropriate for some Indigenous people. Culturally inclusive ways of incorporating physical activity (such as caring for country, and offering culturally inclusive school activities) developed in consultation with Indigenous communities could be more relevant and have increased likelihood of success as a preventive health measure. It is important to note that some components of the Indigenous population are relatively transient, which also makes regular and sustainable participation in programs more difficult. Many complex factors contribute to the high levels of physical inactivity and the associated chronic disease burden among Indigenous people.
  • Sedentary behaviour and obesity: Review of the current scientific evidence (PDF  - 964 KB), Biddle S, et.al., The Sedentary Behaviour and Obesity Expert Working Group, Department of Health, United Kingdom, (2010). This report was commissioned by the Department of Health to provide expert input into the process of developing recommendations on limiting time spent being sedentary. This report explores the evidence linking sedentary behaviour with health outcomes, and in particular overweight and obesity. The report also describes what has been done in other countries.
  • Walking cadence (steps/min) and intensity in 21–40 year olds: CADENCE-adults, Catrine Tudor-Locke, et.al., International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Volume 16(8), (17 January 2019). This study sought to establish cadence-based thresholds that could be used as proxy values for moderate and/or vigorous intensity walking. They determined that cadence thresholds of 100 (moderate) and 130 (vigorous) steps/min can serve as useful proxy values for recommending and modulating walking intensity thresholds in 21-40 year olds. 
  • Worldwide trends in insufficient physical activity from 2001 to 2016: a pooled analysis of 358 population-based surveys with 1·9 million participants, Regina Guthold, Gretchen A Stevens, Leanne M Riley, Fiona C Bull, The Lancet, Volume 6(10), (published online 4 September 2018). Analysis of pooled data from population-based surveys reporting the prevalence of insufficient physical activity, which included physical activity at work, at home, for transport, and during leisure time (ie, not doing at least 150 min of moderate-intensity, or 75 min of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or any equivalent combination of the two). Aim was to describe levels of insufficient physical activity across countries, and estimate global and regional trends.In 2016 global age-standardised prevalence of insufficient physical activity was 27·5%, showing that levels have continued to be stable since 2001 (28.5%, change not statistically significant). Although this sounds positive significant differences exist between men and women (8 percentage points between men and women with the latter on average being less active).  The highest levels in 2016, were in women in Latin America and the Caribbean (43·7%, 42·9–46·5), south Asia (43·0%, 29·6–74·9), and high-income Western countries (42·3%, 39·1–45·4), whereas the lowest levels were in men from Oceania (12·3%, 11·2–17·7), east and southeast Asia (17·6%, 15·7–23·9), and sub-Saharan Africa (17·9%, 15·1–20·5). Prevalence in 2016 was more than twice as high in high-income countries (36·8%, 35·0–38·0) as in low-income countries (16·2%, 14·2–17·9), and insufficient activity has increased in high-income countries over time (31·6%, 27·1–37·2, in 2001). The authors conclude that if current trends continue, the 2025 global physical activity target (a 10% relative reduction in insufficient physical activity) will not be met. Policies to increase population levels of physical activity need to be prioritised and scaled up urgently.

Finder iconStatistics 

  • National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4364.0.55.001, (2015). In 2014-15, 63.4% of Australian adults were overweight or obese (11.2 million people). This is similar to the prevalence of overweight and obesity in 2011-12 (62.8%) and an increase since 1995 (56.3%). Around one in four (27.4%) children aged 5-17 years were overweight or obese, similar to 2011-12 (25.7%). In 2014-15, 55.5% of 18-64 year olds participated in sufficient physical activity in the last week (more than 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or more than 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both, including walking). Nearly one in three (29.7%) were insufficiently active (less than 150 minutes in the last week) while 14.8% were inactive (no exercise in the last week).
  • Profiles of Health, Australia 2011-13, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Catalogue Number 4338.0, (2013). 62.8% of Australians aged 18 years and over were overweight or obese; this total is comprised of 35.3% overweight and 27.5% obese. A further 35.5% of the adult population were of normal weight and 1.7% were underweight. The prevalence of adult overweight and obesity has increased in Australia over the past twenty years.

Sport, recreation and community based interventions

Small changes add up - just 15 mins more of brisk walking by each person 5 days a week could cut Australia’s disease burden due to insufficient physical activity by about 14%. If this time rose to 30 minutes, the burden could be reduced by 26%.
Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.

Finder iconPrograms

  • 10 Today, 10 Today is a UK based program aimed at getting older adults moving, funded by Anchor Hanover and Sport England lottery. The program involves short ten minute routines to get people stretching and moving, that will be broadcast on the radio [limited regions] and available online. Their vision is a world where being physically active is part of daily life for older people.
  • Active Breed, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, (accessed 13 January 2020). Active Breed is a 12-week program focused on encouraging men to improve their physical and mental health and lose weight through a series of weekly education and exercise sessions. Each session will run for approximately 90 minutes and will focus on topics including: Weight loss; Physical activity; Dietary intake; Mental health; and, Violence prevention. 
  • Bowling with babies. Bowling with Babies brings new and expecting parents together to enjoy a coffee, a chat and a social lawn bowl.
  • Football Fans in Training (FFIT). FFIT is a 12 week program aimed at improving both men’s and women’s health and wellbeing, while providing them with a behind-the-scenes look at their local Football Club. The free weekly sessions, based at many football stadiums across Scotland and England, are split between classroom based workshops and physical activity training with all sessions delivered by coaches from the club. Several programs have also been developed based on the program including: 
    • Aussie-FIT. Currently based in Perth this program is aimed at 35-65 year-old men with BMIs higher than 28kg harnessing participants passion for Australian Rules Football to help them get fit, be healthier and have fun. 
    • Move Like a Pro. The 12-week Movelikeapro programme is now being delivered in Premiership Rugby clubs across England. It combines simple exercises and meal plans.
    • EuroFIT. EuroFIT harnesses the loyalty that many football fans feel to their club to attract them to a lifestyle change programme delivered by community coaches in the club’s stadium. Building upon the Football Fans in Training programme used in Scotland, nine universities have developed this scientifically rigorous, European programme through inter-sectoral collaboration with over 20 leading football clubs in the UK, Netherlands, Norway and Portugal.
    • FITTer Families. Aimed at men who are fathers, or father-figures, to kids aged 7-11 years. Includes an additional a four week programme – for fathers and kids to take part in together.  It will follow on from the FFIT programme, giving men a chance to inspire their kids to also get more active, cut down on junk food and cut down on screen time – whilst having fun together at the club.
  • Girls Make Your Move, Australian Government, Department of Health, (2016-).The Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend that 13 to 17 year-olds should maximise their physical activity in as many ways as possible, accumulating at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity every day, while limiting sedentary behaviour. Research has shown that many young Australians fall well short of this recommendation, particularly young Australian females. Girls and young women are twice as likely to be sedentary or less active than their male counterparts. In response to the many public health issues associated with risk factors linked to physical inactivity, the Australian Government has launched Girls Make Your Move. This campaign is designed to communicate with young women and generate greater interest about participation in a wide range of physical activities and sport. The campaign targets girls/women across an age range of 12 to 19 years.
  • I CAN be Active & Healthy, City of Gold Coast (2019-2020). The Active & Healthy Program is here to encourage you to change your mindset, delete your negative self-talk and give yourself an empowerment speech that convinces you once and for all that you really CAN make some positive changes to your way of life and create long-term lifestyle benefits for you and your family.
  • Join the Movement, Queensland Government, (2016). Join the Movement is a campaign designed to encourage and inspire Queensland women to be more active. Our campaign is made for Queenslanders by Queenslanders with every woman involved volunteering to be a part of the movement.

        • MAN v FAT Football (Soccer). First started in the UK in 2016 MAN v FAT Football is a football league only for guys who want to lose weight. Uniquely, the league is decided not just on points won, but pounds lost. Support is offered to every player with unique resources, inspiration and 24/7 support to help you lose weight, get fitter and enjoy the beautiful game. In an assessed 14 week pilot scheme run by Solihull Council in the UK, players lost 22kgs on average, with 62% hitting their 5% body weight target. The maximum weight lost by one player was 67kgs and the maximum bodyweight percentage lost was 26%. 95% of players lose weight. In September 2018 UWA Sport and the Psychology of Active, Healthy Living (PAHL) group at the University of Western Australia launched the first league with plans to expand across Perth, the rest of Western Australia and the rest of the country from 2019. Over 100 men registered for the initial league. 
        • One You. This is a Public Health England campaign designed to encourage better personal health by focusing on seven key lifestyle/behaviours: (1) regular health checks (particularly for persons past the age of 40); (2) quit smoking; (3) responsible alcohol consumption; (4) health food choices; (5) increasing physical activity; (6) quality sleep, and (7) reducing stress (mental and emotional pressure).
        • Rock Up Netball, Netball Victoria. Developed in conjunction with VicHealth, the Rock Up Netball (ages 15+) and Rock Up Netball Youth (ages 12-17) programs are tailored to meet the different fitness and skill levels of women aged 15 years and over. The program is a flexible, ‘pay as you play’ option to organised physical activity, and bring the elements of a fun, social setting. Participants do not require a Netball Victoria affiliation. It includes different options including: train, play festivals and social competition. 
        • Soccer Mums, VicHealth/Football Victoria, (accessed 13 January 2020). Soccer Mums, an initiative of VicHealth is proudly presented by Football Victoria. It is an introductory soccer program designed specifically for women, where you have fun, meet new people and learn basic football skills without knowing it.
        • This Girl Can (Victoria). Victorian Government, (2017). A local version of the popular UK campaign, the goal is to create a community of women across Victoria who can share stories and advice to support each other and inspire others. 
        • Walking sports are modified versions of team sports which provide a low impact, social and fun way to improve physical activity. Several national and state bodies have started walking programs or leagues including: basketball, football, netball

        ReadingReading

        • Even a 20-Second Exercise ‘Snack’ Can Improve Fitness, Gretchen Reynolds, NY Times, (23 January 2019). As little as 20 seconds of brisk stair climbing, done several times a day, might be enough to increase aerobic fitness. 
        • How much do sedentary people really need to move? It’s less thanyou think, Emmanuel Stamatakis, Joanne Gale and Melody Ding,University of Sydney, The Conversation, (23 April 2019).People who spend much of their day sitting may need to move around less than wethought to counteract their sedentary lifestyle, new research shows. About20-40 minutes of physical activity a day, equivalent to meeting the physicalactivity guidelines of 150 to 300 minutes a week, seems to eliminate mosthealth risks associated with sitting.
        • GO! Run: Closing the gender gap in girls’ participation in sport and physical activity, Hayley Degaust, WellSpring, (1 May 2019). There are many challenges girls can face when trying to participate in sport and physical activity that have contributed to a decline in their participation. GO! Run is a free, running program for girls only, developed to increase girls’ participation in physical activity opportunities by breaking down some the many barriers. 
        • Moving Research Translation on Physical Activity to Center Stage, Bauman, Adrian E.; Smith, Ben J.; Bellew, William, Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, Volume 47(3), pp.127–128, (July 2019). Provides an overview and summary of research to provide a systematic process for adapting and translating the best evidence concerning physical activity strategies to achieve population level impacts.
        • New Campaign Launched to Improve the Lives of Older People, Ellen Hoggard, happiful, (9 May 2019). 10 Today is a national exercise program, developed and led by older people to improve physical and mental wellbeing and reduce strain on the NHS. Launched by Sport England, housing provider Anchor Hanover and cross-party think tank Demos, the initiative comes after research revealed physical inactivity in later life is one of the greatest challenges facing our country.
        • Physical activity programming for new parents, Jen Dick and Nora Johnston, WellSpring, (December 2019). Physical activity can provide parents of newborns and infants with an opportunity to ease the transition to parenthood, while improving both their physical and mental health. To support parents, the City of Edmonton offers a variety of physical activity programs that not only provide a safe opportunity to exercise, but also support opportunities to meet other parents and socialize. This WellSpring provides an overview of these programs.

        Report iconReports

        • Addressing the social and commercial determinants of healthy weight: : an Evidence Check rapid review, Friel S and Goldman S., Sax Institute for Queensland Health, (2019). This review examines the social and commercial determinants of healthy eating, physical activity and obesity, and identifies effective and promising interventions focused on the social and commercial determinants of health that could be implemented in Australia to improve healthy weight. Included studies focused on structural factors (income, education, occupation) and on daily living conditions (childhood development, physical environment and social capital). The review finds that leadership and stewardship roles of the health sector are critical to action.
        • Australia’s Health 2018Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Catalogue Number AUS 221, (2018). Every two years the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) compiles a national report card on the health of Australians. A comprehensive range of health metrics are reported, including population statistics on bodyweight (e.g. underweight, normal, overweight and obese) and compliance with physical activity guidelines. Almost two-thirds (63%) of Australians aged 18 and over, and more than one-quarter (28%) of children aged 5–17 are overweight or obese. Overweight and obesity, when considered together with insufficient physical activity, is estimated to account for 9% of the total disease burden in Australia—the same as tobacco smoking (the leading risk factor). An extra 15 minutes of brisk walking by each person 5 days a week could cut Australia’s disease burden due to insufficient physical activity by about 14%. If this time rose to 30 minutes, the burden could be reduced by 26%.
        • Insights to engage Victorians in physical activity at different life stages (PDF  - 119 KB). VicHealth, (June 2017). This research involved online surveys of 3145 Victorians aged 12 and over across Victoria, as well as focus groups with Victorian adults aged 18 and over. It resulted in five distinct ‘life stages’ for which there are common themes and unique attributes that influence physical activity behaviour. Within each life stage, sub-groups were identified based on their physical activity levels and their likelihood to respond to programs and communications encouraging them to be more active. Some enablers and barriers to physical activity are common to all life stages. But to increase the success of strategies to increase activity, consider the sub-groups and what influences their attitudes and motivations, and the level of personal or external support available. Strategies must also consider the awareness and availability of physical activity options to the sub-group and what and how to communicate with them. The five distinct ‘life stages’ identified are: 
        • Population-level strategies to support healthy weight: an Evidence Check rapid review, Sacks G, Looi E, Cameron A, Backholer K, Strugnell C et al. Sax Institute for Queensland Health, (2019). This review was commissioned to inform the development of the National Obesity Strategy. It identified population-level interventions, programs and policy approaches that are effective in improving healthy eating and physical activity. The review found 31 interventions related to food systems, physical activity, public policy, regulation and legislation. Those targeting community action, personal skill development and social marking were also identified.
          • Evidence brief: How can Australia tackle the obesity epidemic? (PDF  - 852 KB), Sax Institute for Queensland Health, (2019). Examples of the initiatives found to be effective include: increasing the price of unhealthy food and drinks; reducing the exposure of children to the promotion of unhealthy food and drinks; and workplace interventions to reduce prolonged sitting times and enable physical activity. 
        • Young and physically active: A blueprint for making physical activity appealing to youth (PDF  - 3.3 MB), Kelly P, Matthews A and Foster C, World Health Organisation, (2012). Scientific evidence shows that physical inactivity is a leading risk factor for ill health, going well beyond issues related to weight control and influencing both physical and mental wellbeing. The World Health Organization (WHO) advocates the promotion of physical activity as a public health priority. Many member countries have responded through the development of policies, information programs, and interventions. This report is intended to be a resource for physical activity promoters, with a focus on children and young people.    

        Research iconResearch

        • A snapshot of physical activity programs targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, Macniven R, Elwell M, Ride K, Bauman A and Richards J, Health Promotion Journal of Australia (11 November 2016). Physical activity programs can reduce chronic disease risk factors and may also improve broader social outcomes. This study looked at the extent of current practice in physical activity programs targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. A total of 110 programs were identified across urban, rural and remote locations within all states and territories; however, only 11 programs were located through bibliographic sources. The majority of programs were only identified through the grey literature. Sixty-five programs took place in community settings and most involved multiple sectors; such as sport, health and education; and almost all were free for Indigenous stakeholders. The majority of programs received Government funding. More than 20 programs serviced over 1000 people and 14 programs reached 0-100 participants. Most programs included an evaluation process, assessing outcomes against stated objectives, but evaluation data was under represented in academic literature. The authors observe that capturing current practice can inform and influence future programs and increase the impact of such physical activity programs to improve health and social indicators.
        • Brief Intense Stair Climbing Improves Cardiorespiratory Fitness, Mary K Allison, et.al., Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Volume 49(2), pp.298-307, (2017). The present work explored the potential for brief, intense stair climbing to improve CRF and other indices of cardiometabolic health. Two separate but related studies were conducted, each involving an acute and chronic phase. The acute phases assessed physiological and perceptual responses to various SIT protocols using randomized crossover designs. The chronic phases examined the effect of two distinct 6-wk training interventions: the first study involved repeated 20-s bouts of continuously ascending stairs, and the second study involved repeated 60-s bouts of ascending and descending stairs. We tested two main hypotheses: 1) an acute bout of stair climbing would elicit physiological and perceptual responses similar to a modified Wingate-based cycling protocol, and 2) 6 wk of stair climbing would improve CRF, similar to what has been demonstrated for cycling-based SIT. The results indicate that brief, intense stair climbing is a practical, time-efficient strategy to improve CRF in previously untrained women.
        • Correlates of walking among disadvantaged groups: A systematic review, Toni A. Hilland, Matthew Bourke, Glen Wiesner, Enrique Garcia Bengoechea, Alexandra G. Parker, Michaela Pascoe, Melinda Craike, Health and Place, Volume 63, (May 2020). This paper reviewed evidence from 35 studies that examined factors associated with walking participation among disadvantaged groups. People who experience disadvantage are less likely to be physically active than those who are more affluent. Walking is an important form of physical activity that is low cost and accessible. Findings of the review suggest that the following should be considered to increase walking participation among disadvantaged groups: 
          • Addressing safety concerns through improved lighting, reducing the level and speed of traffic, and increased community cohesion 
          • Increasing social ties and networks, for example through walking groups
          • Improving the attractiveness of neighbourhoods through well maintained open space, clean streets, well maintained amenities and gardens
          • Increasing neighbourhood walkability by designing neighbourhoods to be pedestrian friendly e.g., improving walking infrastructure, street connectivity, amenities within walking distance 
        • The development of the Comprehensive Analysis of Policy on Physical Activity (CAPPA) framework, Bojana Klepac Pogrmilovic, et.al., International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, (2 August 2019). The CAPPA framework specifies 38 elements of a comprehensive analysis of PA policies in the following six categories, which comprise the building blocks of the framework: (i) purpose of analysis (including auditing and assessment of policies); (ii) policy level (including: international; national; subnational; local; and institutional policies); (iii) policy sector (including: health; sport; recreation and leisure; education; transport; environment; urban/rural planning and design; tourism; work and employment; public finance; and research sectors); (iv) type of policy (including: formal written policies; unwritten formal statements; written standards and guidelines; formal procedures; and informal policies); (v) stage of policy cycle (including: agenda setting; formulation; endorsement/legitimisation; implementation; evaluation; maintenance; termination; and succession); and (vi) scope of analysis (including availability; context; processes; actors; political will; content; and effects). Based on the CAPPA framework, the authors also proposed broad and inclusive definitions of PA policy and PA policy analysis.
        • Do Stair Climbing Exercise “Snacks” Improve Cardiorespiratory Fitness?, Elizabeth M. Jenkins, Leah Nicole Nairn, Lauren E. Skelly, Jonathan P. Little, Martin J. Gibala, Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, (published online 16 January 2019). The authors investigated the effect of stair climbing exercise “snacks” on peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak). Sedentary young adults were randomly assigned to perform 3 bouts/d of vigorously ascending a three-flight stairwell (60 steps), separated by 1-4 h of recovery, 3d/wk for 6 wk, or a non-training control group (n=12 each). VO2peak was higher in the climbers post-intervention (P=0.003), suggesting that stair climbing “snacks” are effective in improving cardiorespiratory fitness, although the absolute increase was modest.
        • Effects of Physical Activity Governmental Programs on Health Status in Independent Older Adults: A Systematic Review, Pablo Antonio Vales-Badilla, et.al., Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, Volume 27(2), pp. 265-275, (2019). This systematic review analyzes the evidence of the effects of physical activity governmental programs oriented toward the health of independent older adults. Medline, Web of Science, PsycINFO, and Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection databases were used for data mining, and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocols recommendations were followed. Five studies (n = 2,545 participants) fulfilled the established inclusion criteria. The physical activity programs had beneficial effects on the older adults’ quality of life, fall risk, activities of daily living, physical activity levels, nutritional risk, body mass index, arterial pressure, resting heart rate, blood glucose, triglycerides, and/or cholesterol, but did not significantly alter their body fat mass percentage. Programs involving diverse physical capacities seem to be more effective for healthy aging. It is recommended that governments start to disseminate the outcomes of these programs within society and the scientific community.
        • Football Fans in Training (FFIT): a randomised controlled trial of a gender-sensitised weight loss and healthy living programme for men – end of study report, Sally Wyke, Public Health Research, No. 3.2., NIHR Journals Library, (January 2015). This study aimed to assess (1) the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of Football Fans in Training (FFIT) (a group-based, weight-management and healthy-living programme delivered by community coaches to men in topflight football clubs), (2) fidelity of delivery and (3) coach and participant experiences of FFIT. FFIT was popular and participation led to significant reductions in weight at 12 months. Analyses suggest it enabled lifestyle change. It was cost-effective, attracted men at high risk of future ill health and was enjoyable.
        • Highlights from the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Systematic Review, King Abby C, et al., Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Volume 51(6), pp.1340–1353 (June 2019). Purpose This article describes effective interventions to promote regular physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior that were identified as part of the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report.
        • Interventions to improve physical activity among socioeconomically disadvantaged groups: an umbrella review, Melinda Craike, Glen Wiesner, Toni A. Hilland & Enrique Garcia Bengoechea, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, (15 May 2018). People from socioeconomically disadvantaged population groups are less likely to be physically active and more likely to experience adverse health outcomes than those who are less disadvantaged. In this umbrella review we examined across all age groups, (1) the effectiveness of interventions to improve physical activity among socioeconomically disadvantaged groups, (2) the characteristics of effective interventions, and (3) directions for future research.
        • Mixed‐method evaluation of a community‐wide physical activity program in Launceston, Australia, Lucy Byrne, et.al., Health Promotion Journal of Australia, Volume 30(51), pp.104-115, (December 2019). Interventions to increase physical activity are common, though few examples of multi‐strategy, wide‐scale community programs exist. Active Launceston is a community‐wide program aimed at improving health and well‐being through physical activity. We report on the process evaluation of Active Launceston and changes in community physical activity participation between 2008 and 2015, as a measure of program effectiveness. The mixed‐method evaluation suggests Active Launceston is an effective community‐wide program supporting community members to engage in regular physical activity and increase levels of social engagement.
        • SittingTime, Physical Activity, and Risk of Mortality in Adults, EmmanuelStamatakis, Joanne Gale, Adrian Bauman, Ulf Ekelund, Mark Hamer and DingDing, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Volume 73(16),(April 2019). The purpose of this study was to examine the joint andstratified associations of sitting and moderate to vigorous intensity physicalactivity (MVPA) with all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality, andto estimate the theoretical effect of replacing sitting time with physicalactivity, standing, and sleep. The results indicate that sitting is associatedwith all-cause and CVD mortality risk among the least physically active adults;moderate-to-vigorous physical activity doses equivalent to meeting the currentrecommendations attenuate or effectively eliminate such associations.
        • Why is changing health-related behaviour so difficult? Kelly M and Barker M, Public Health, Volume 136, (July 2016). The authors suggest that six common errors are made in policies that prevent the successful implementation of health-related behaviour change in areas such as physical inactivity and poor diet. Behaviour takes place in social environments and efforts to change it must therefore take into account the social context, political and economic forces which act directly on people's health, regardless of any individual choices that they may make about their own conduct. The six errors are:

        1. An appeal to ‘common sense’ – by common sense the authors mean that understanding human behaviour is so obvious that it needs little or no serious analysis. The authors suggest that an appeal to common sense is not specific or grounded in evidence. If changing behaviour was simply about making common sense changes and good choices, then individuals would all be able to make changes themselves. This thinking ignores that human behaviour is the result of the interplay between habit, automatic responses to the immediate and wider environments, conscious choice and calculation, and is located in complex social environments and cultures.
        2. Changing behaviour is about getting the message across. This strategy, although strong on rhetoric, remains firmly located in simple non-evidence-based models of behaviour change in which messaging is the principal mechanism – if you get the message out there, people will respond to it.
        3. Knowledge and information drive behaviour. This model assumes is that if we tell people the negative consequences of eating too much or exercising too little, they will change their behaviour accordingly. However, giving people information does not necessarily make them change.
        4. People act rationally. This approach assumes that people act rationally to change their behaviour when provided with evidence. However, even where people are in possession of compelling information, behaviour change can be very difficult.
        5. People act irrationally. The converse to the above is equally true, people often have very unique reasons for their decisions – behaviours that persist tend to be functional for the individuals themselves. A decision to drive car for a short distance trip (over walking or cycling as a means of active transport) shows that one person's rationality is another's irrationality. Therefore, it’s important not to dismiss the explanations people give of what they do just because the epidemiological evidence demonstrates that what they do carries a health risk.
        6. It is possible to predict accurately. The final common mistake in designing public policy is to assume that we can predict the result. Even in the most carefully designed models, a great deal of variance in individual behavioural outcomes exists. Public health policy is often driven by a naïve desire to predict things (i.e. if we run campaigns using simple words that people will understand about their choices, then they will change their behaviour for the better); rather than understanding what led to the current behaviour in the first place. Prediction is simple; it is far less effective and accurate than unraveling the cause.

        resources iconResources

        • Health promotion package: Physical activity, Danish Health Authority, (2020). The purpose of the physical activity health promotion package is to support the municipalities’ work to provide the citizens with great opportunities for being physically active throughout their life in order to prevent disease retain functional capacity and support good well-being.
        • Open your World, Government of South Australia, (accessed 7 May 2020). Provides South Australians and their families with valuable resources, tools and information to support improving wellbeing by staying healthy, active and connected. Open Your World brings together information from a wide range of government agencies and non-government organisations in one place, providing an interactive and accessible one-stop-shop for information about wellbeing. 
        • Physical Activity Toolkit for Older Adults (PDF  - 3.4 MB), ParticipACTION, (2018?). For the first time ever, older adults make up a greater share of Canada’s population than children. By 2031, about 23 per cent of Canadians could be seniors. To help older adults sit less and move more, ParticiPACTION has developed this Toolkit including physical activity guidelines, a walking program, a movement log, articles on the role PA plays in prevention and management of chronic disease, plus lots of useful resources to help older adults get moving. 

         Video iconVideos

        • Football Fans in Training Television Documentary, SPFL Trust/YouTube,  (1 December 2014). 75 per cent of men in Scotland between the age of 35 and 65 are overweight and one quarter of all men in this age group are clinically obese. Football Fans in training follows a handful of men who undertake an immense personal journey - from the real prospect of an early death to regaining control of their lives.
        • Monitoring Activities of Teenagers to Comprehend their Habits (MATCH) study results, Mathieu Bélanger, Université de Sherbrooke, IHDCYH Talks Entretiens de l'IDSEA/YouTube, (1 November 2019). Highlights from the MATCH longitudinal study of 1,000 students. Key results: people take part in physical activity for: enjoyment; social outcomes; competence; fitness/health; and, appearance. People who enjoy physical activity and/or want to improve their skills are more likely to participate in group or organised physical activity, and to meet the physical activity guidelines. Internal and external barriers exist, active commuting environments help young people to be active. Satisfaction of psychological needs led to higher wellbeing. Importance of parents and sport sampling in children continuing to participate in sports during adolescence. 
        • Move Congress 2019, ISCA Channel/YouTube, (November 2019). Various videos and presentations from the 2019 MOVE Congress. 
        • Saints Play - making AFL accessible for all, VicHealth/YouTube, (4 December 2018). VicHealth Innovation Challenge: Sport helps sports orgs get more Victorians off the couch and playing more sport more often, with a focus on those with low physical activity levels. The funding for Saints Play helped AFL and St Kilda Football Club develop inclusive environments for children with autism and their families.
        • Walking Netball [video]. England Netball/YouTube, (23 February 2016).  

        Education

        Support daily PA opportunities including free play, PE and active transport. For example: active classrooms, active travel drop-off points, the Daily Mile. Children who achieve 45mins a day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) perform better in writing, numeracy, and overall proficiency.
        Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.

        Finder iconPrograms

        • Bright sports, physical activity investments that work: implementing brain breaks in Malaysian primary schools, Garry Kuan, Hussein Rizal, Mawar Siti Hajar, et.al., British Journal of Sports Medicine, (published online 21 February 2019). Brain Breaks Physical Activity Solutions is an interactive online resource designed for the classroom setting that involves web-based structured classroom physical activity. At the core of Brain Breaks is are movement and cognitive activity. It is part of a GCH project, developed by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, that involves whole school, community and child framework. The programme is supported by the United Nations as part of the 17 Sustainable Developmental Goals under the goals of good health and well-being. Access to the Brain Breaks videos only requires internet access (https://www.brain-breaks.com/) and a projector to display the physical activity videos.
        • Bright spots physical activity investments that work: Youth-Physical Activity Towards Health (Y-PATH), Belton S, O’Brien W, McGann J, et al., British Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 53(4), pp.208-212, (2019). A national program in the Republic of Ireland Y-PATH is a multicomponent school-based programme, based on a combination of self-determination theory, and the socioecological model. The ‘active ingredients’ can be broken down into three categories (1) Physical education (PE) component, ‘PE 4 ME’, (2) Whole-school teacher component. (3) Parent/guardian component. 
        • Daily Mile. The Daily Mile is a social physical activity, with children running or jogging – at their own pace – in the fresh air with friends. Children can occasionally walk to catch their breath, if necessary, but should aim to run or jog for the full 15 minutes. Originally started by a school in Scotland, the program is now run in over 11,000 schools and nurseries in 78 countries. 
        • Kids Run Club. A free school-based running program designed to give children and youth an opportunity to be active through running. The program was created by Doctors Nov Scotia in Canada with the goal of giving children and youth a chance to be active and to learn about healthy lifestyles. The best part about Kids Run Club is it can be adapted for kids of all ages and abilities. This club teaches participants about proper technique and pacing, and how to balance the challenge of running with taking breaks so that all experience success and, of course, have fun!
        • PLAN-A. Peer power to get girls more active! PLAN-A harnesses the power of influential girls in Year 8 to get the rest of their year group moving.
        • UniSport partners with Sport Australia to launch UniMoves programme, Nancy Gillen, Inside the Games, (28 September 2019). The MyWellness platform enables staff and students to track their activity, compete in challenges against each other, gain access to an array of fitness programs and find out about all the activities happening on campus.

        ReadingReading

        • Adapting to secondary school: why the physical environment is important too, Brendon Hyndman, Senior Lecturer, Charles Sturt University, The Conversation, (6 February 2019). Australian research found the change from primary into secondary schooling can make students less active and more sedentary, compared to a primary-secondary combined setting. Provides several suggested actions to help increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour for secondary school students. 
        • Feeling fidgety in class? Go stomp, jump or hop down this school's sensory hallway, Karen Pauls, CBC News, (2 January 2019). Students at Roland School can also squat, do pushups or crawl down the main corridor to stay active.
        • How a Nova Scotia running club for kids has encouraged fitness for 15 years, Heather Fegan, The Chronicle Herald, (25 June 2019). Kids Run Club is a free, province-wide, school-based running program offered by Doctors Nova Scotia to address inactivity in children and youth. Designed to be fun and accessible to all, Kids Run Club teaches participants about the importance of healthy living. What began with 3,500 participants and 58 schools in 2004 has now grown to reach more than 17,000 youth. The program has engaged more than 80 per cent of Nova Scotia’s elementary schools.
        • Physical activity in lessons improves students' attainment, media release, University of Sydney, (16 October 2019). Students who take part in physical exercises like star jumps or running on the spot during school lessons do better in tests than peers who stick to sedentary learning, according to a University College London and University of Sydney study.
        • Schools are a crucial place for physical activity programmes – here’s how to make them work, Michaela James and Sinead Brophy, Swansea University, The Conversation, (25 January 2019). As curricula in UK schools undergo a key period of change, now is the best time to rethink how we approach physical activity. And as physical activity has been shown to improve concentration, attention and memory, it is in schools’ best interests that they help children move more and sit less.
        • When kids run for 15 minutes in school every day, here’s what happens to their health, Colin Moran, Naomi Brooks, Ross Chesham, University of Stirling, The Conversation, (11 May 2018). If you haven’t heard of the Daily Mile yet, your time has come. Now taking place in 3,600 primary schools each day in 35 countries around the world, it takes children outside during normal lesson time to run or walk laps of the playground for 15 minutes. The ones who run cover around a mile each day.
        • When this community took on the obesity epidemic, it came up with 400 solutions, Felicity Ogilvie, ABC News, (29 January 2020). Hamilton residents put forward 400 suggestions, ranging from the development of a food co-op, to produce swaps, to taking measures to encourage breastfeeding. One of the programs that has been put into action allows parents to drop their children 800 metres from school so they can walk the distance.
        • Youth Sport Trust pilot: active play is 'crucial' to children preparing for school, Tom Walker, Sports Management, (13 September 2019). A regional active play scheme targeting two to four-year-olds has been credited with providing a "wholly positive impact" on children’s attitude to learning – and their ability to follow instructions.

        Report iconReports

        • A Healthier Start for Victorians, VicHealth, (18 July 2019). This consensus statement outlines practical recommendations to the Victorian Government to turn the tide on obesity. The focus is on children and young people to give them the best chance for a healthier start to life. Key actions relating to physical activity include: Engage and support local communities to develop and lead their own healthy eating and physical activity initiatives; Support schools to increase students’ physical activity and physical literacy; and, Develop and implement a strategy to get Victorians walking more. 
        • Addressing the social and commercial determinants of healthy weight: : an Evidence Check rapid review, Friel S and Goldman S., Sax Institute for Queensland Health, (2019). This review examines the social and commercial determinants of healthy eating, physical activity and obesity, and identifies effective and promising interventions focused on the social and commercial determinants of health that could be implemented in Australia to improve healthy weight. Included studies focused on structural factors (income, education, occupation) and on daily living conditions (childhood development, physical environment and social capital). The review finds that leadership and stewardship roles of the health sector are critical to action.
        • Brain Boost: How sport and physical activity enhance children’s learning, what the research is telling us, (PDF  - 2.9 MB), Smith J, Government of Western Australia, Department of Sport and Recreation, (2015). This report is a follow-up to one published in 2010, it updates the latest research supporting the positive link between physical activity (including sport) and cognitive development and academic success. It details findings from Australian and international research published in peer reviewed journals and it provides summaries of intervention and longitudinal research, correlational studies, and research reviews. 
        • The impact of the Daily Mile on Primary School Children: Fifteen minutes of physical activity could enhance children’s health (PDF  - 231 KB),, Dr Colin Moran, University of Stirling, (February 2019).  This briefing – drawing on three studies led by University of Stirling researchers − has the potential to inform the rollout of the Daily Mile in Scotland, including a widening of the initiative beyond the education sector. 
        • Population-level strategies to support healthy weight: an Evidence Check rapid review, Sacks G, Looi E, Cameron A, Backholer K, Strugnell C et al. Sax Institute for Queensland Health, (2019). This review was commissioned to inform the development of the National Obesity Strategy. It identified population-level interventions, programs and policy approaches that are effective in improving healthy eating and physical activity. The review found 31 interventions related to food systems, physical activity, public policy, regulation and legislation. Those targeting community action, personal skill development and social marking were also identified.
          • Evidence brief: How can Australia tackle the obesity epidemic? (PDF  - 852 KB), Sax Institute for Queensland Health, (2019). Examples of the initiatives found to be effective include: increasing the price of unhealthy food and drinks; reducing the exposure of children to the promotion of unhealthy food and drinks; and support school and workplace interventions to reduce prolonged sitting times and enable physical activity. 

        Research iconResearch

        • Active Education: Growing evidence on physical activity and academic performance, (PDF  - 1.4 MB), Active Living Research, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, USA, (January 2015). There is a growing body of evidence indicating that physical activity and fitness (including sports participation) can benefit both health and academic performance for children. This report summarises the research and published scientific articles that examine how physical activity and fitness may help school-aged children maximise their academic performance. It also provides an overview of the effects of physical activity on the developing brain. The research indicates that providing opportunities for physical activity is consistent with the overall mission and objectives of schools.
        • The associations between physical activity, sedentary behaviour and academic performance, Maher C, Katzmarzyk P, Dumuid D, Cassidy L and Olds T, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, (23 February 2016). This study investigated cross-sectional relationships between children’s measured physical activity, sedentary behaviour patterns, and academic performance using the standardised, nationally-administered academic assessment (i.e. NAPLAN). Data were collected from 285 children aged 9–11 years from randomly selected schools in South Australia. This study aimed to address the gaps in the current literature, by objectively measuring children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviour patterns using accelerometer data. Academic performance was inconsistently related to moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) across the range of academic measures. Writing and numeracy achievement were positively, significantly related to MVPA, as was overall proficiency score. Children categorised as achieving high MVPA (i.e. 45 minutes/day) scored, on average, 10 points more than those having low MVPA (i.e. 19 minutes/day or less). Impacts of MVPA, and in particular aerobic exercise on cerebral blood flow, and neuroplasticity and executive function, may underpin these associations. To our knowledge, this is the first study to consistently identify favourable relationships between total sedentary time and academic performance; sedentary time during weekdays was positively related to academic performance in reading and spelling.
        • The Daily Mile makes primary school children more active, less sedentary and improves their fitness and body composition: a quasi-experimental pilot study, Ross A. Chesham, et,al., BMC Medicine, 16:64, (2018). This study found that in primary school children, the Daily Mile intervention is effective at increasing levels of MVPA, reducing sedentary time, increasing physical fitness and improving body composition. These findings have relevance for teachers, policymakers, public health practitioners, and health researchers.
        • The Daily Mile: What factors are associated with its implementation success? Gemma C. Ryde, Josephine N. Booth, Naomi E. Brooks, et.al., PLOS One, (4 October 2018). Despite the known benefits of a physically active lifestyle, there are few examples of interventions that have been successfully implemented at a population level over a long period of time. One such example is The Daily Mile, a school based physical activity initiative, where a teacher takes their class out daily during class time for a short bout of ambulatory activity. At one school, this activity appears has been sustained over a long period (6 years), has the whole school participating and is now incorporated into its daily routine. The aim of this paper was to understand how The Daily Mile was implemented in primary schools and to assess factors associated with its successful implementation.
        • The educational benefits claimed for physical education and school sport: An academic review, Gailey R, Armour K, Kirk D, Jess M, Pickup I and Stanford R, Research Papers in Education, Volume 4(1), (2009). This review critically examines the theoretical and empirical evidence of claims made for the educational benefits of physical education and school sport (PESS). Claims regarding the benefits of PESS are made in four broad domains: (1) physical; (2) social; (3) affective, and; (3) cognitive. Analysis of the evidence is generally supportive in all four domains. However, benefits are mediated by environmental and contextual factors such as the quality of leadership; the involvement of young people in decision‐making; the emphasis on social relationships, and; an explicit focus on learning processes (e.g. pedagogical considerations). In the physical domain there is strong evidence that development of children’s movement skills and physical competence can contribute to greater physical activity, and therefore health and fitness benefits. In the affective and social domains engagement has been positively associated with psychosocial and emotional development, yet the specific mechanisms through which these benefits occur is less clear. Likewise, the mechanisms by which PESS might contribute to cognitive and academic developments are still being explored. There is persuasive evidence to suggest that physical activity can improve children’s concentration and arousal, which benefits academic performance.
        • Factors associated with the institutionalization of a physical activity program in Australian elementary schools, Matthew Bourke, Toni A Hilland, Melinda Craike, Translational Behavioral Medicine, (26 July 2019). The purpose of this study is to examine how school context, principal characteristics, and program attributes are associated with the institutionalization of Bluearth Foundation’s Active Schools program in Australian elementary schools. Results suggest that schools that have someone who can provide support implementing a program are more likely to institute the program into policies and practices. It is also important that school administrators have the tools to evaluate the benefits of physical activity programs and to perceive them as being beneficial for their students. However, schools may struggle to institutionalize physical activity programs after formal program delivery has concluded.
        • Highlights from the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Systematic Review, King Abby C, et al., Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Volume 51(6), pp.1340–1353 (June 2019). Purpose This article describes effective interventions to promote regular physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior that were identified as part of the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report.
        • Maximizing the benefits of youth sport, (PDF  - 383 KB), Journal of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, Position Statement, Volume 84(7), (2013). Research shows that positive outcomes of youth sport depend on: (1) the manner in which sports are organised; (2) what occurs in a young person’s relationships with parents, peers, and coaches; (3) the meaning that a young person gives to sport experiences; and (4) the way a young person integrates sport experiences into other spheres of life. Knowledge of those factors is crucial when creating a framework that maximises the benefits of sport participation. Based on research findings across multiple fields, it is the current position of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) that young people who play sports are likely to experience physical, psychological, academic, and social benefits, but those benefits do not occur automatically. Positive benefits are most likely to occur when young people have positive and supportive relationships with teammates, coaches, and parents; develop physical and interpersonal skills, knowledge, and competencies; have opportunities to make decisions about their sport participation, and; have experiences that are consistent with their particular needs and developmental level.
        • Out of school activities during primary school and KS2 attainment (PDF  - 1.1 MB), Chanfreau J, Tanner E, Callanan M, Laing K, Skipp A and Todd L, Centre for Longitudinal Studies, National Centre for Social Research, United Kingdom, Working Paper, (2016). This research investigated whether taking part in out-of-school activities during primary school is linked with end of primary school academic attainment and social, emotional and behavioural outcomes. Specifically, the outcomes for all children were compared to children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The analysis is based on the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) survey data linked to administrative data for the cohort’s Key Stage 1 (KS1) and Key Stage 2 (KS2) academic attainment scores. Data on 11,762 children were collected at five time points, including ages 5, 7 and 11 years. Results showed that for all children sports clubs and ‘other’ (unspecified) after-school participation was positively associated with attainment outcomes at age 11, when controlling for prior attainment. Participating in organised sports or physical activity was also positively linked to social, emotional and behavioural outcomes. Among disadvantaged children, after-school club sport participation emerged as the only organised activity linked to child outcomes; participation was linked to both higher KS2 attainment and pro-social skills. The implications of these findings for further research, policy and practice are discussed. Educational inequalities between children from different backgrounds at the end of primary school are pronounced. A quarter of children in the UK from the most disadvantaged backgrounds achieve below expected levels, compared to just 3 per cent of children from affluent backgrounds. A range of theories have been offered to explain the different pathways that may link out-of-school activities to academic attainment; including academic enrichment (I.e. additional learning opportunities), greater confidence and self-esteem, and positive identification with school. The literature suggests that disadvantaged children have more to gain from out-of-school activities. The current research builds upon the existing evidence by examining a range of out-of-school activities and their potential for helping to reduce the attainment gap; future research must explore the causal relationships.
        • Physical activity and cognition in adolescents: A systematic review, Esteban-Cornejo I, Tejero-Gonzalez C, Sallis J and Veiga O, Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, (24 July 2014). This systematic review of literature looked at the association between physical activity and cognition, differentiating between academic performance and cognitive ability. Half of the studies reviewed found a positive association between fitness and academic performance, and 23% found a positive association between fitness and cognitive ability. The results of this review support the positive association that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity has with cognition.
        • Physically Active Lessons Improve Lesson Activity and On-Task Behavior: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial of the “Virtual Traveller” Intervention, Emma Norris, et.al., Health & Education Behavior, Volume 45(6), (2018). Evaluate the effects of the “Virtual Traveller” (VT) intervention delivered using classroom interactive whiteboards on physical activity, on-task behavior, and student engagement. VT pupils engaged in significantly more school-day MVPA at T1 only, with no other significant differences between groups in overall school-day or weekend-day activity. VT pupils engaged in significantly less SB and more MVPA during lesson time than COM pupils. More on-task behavior was shown in VT pupils than COM pupils but there was no difference in student engagement. Conclusion. Physical activity can be integrated into teaching using interactive whiteboards with no detriment to educational outcomes.
        • Physically active lessons in schools and their impact on physical activity, educational, health and cognition outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Emma Norris, et.al., British Journal of Sports Medicine, (16 October 2019). This review provides the first meta-analysis of the impact of physically active lessons on lesson-time and overall physical activity (PA), as well as health, cognition and educational outcomes. 42 studies (39 in preschool or elementary school settings, 27 randomised controlled trials) were eligible to be included in the systematic review and 37 of them were included across the six meta-analyses. Physically active lessons were found to produce large, significant increases in lesson-time PA (d=2.33; 95% CI 1.42 to 3.25: k=16) and small, increases on overall PA (d=0.32; 95% CI 0.18 to 0.46: k=8), large, improvement in lesson-time educational outcomes (d=0.81; 95% CI 0.47 to 1.14: k=7) and a small improvement in overall educational outcomes (d=0.36; 95% CI 0.09 to 0.63: k=25). No effects were seen on cognitive (k=3) or health outcomes (k=3). 25/42 studies had high risk of bias in at least two domains.
        • Physically Active Math and Language Lessons Improve Academic Achievement: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial, Marijke J. Mullender-Wijnsma, et.al., Pediatrics, Volume 137(3), (March 2016). The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of an innovative physically active academic intervention (“Fit & Vaardig op School” [F&V]) on academic achievement of children. After 2 years, multilevel analysis showed that children in the intervention group had significantly greater gains in mathematics speed test (P < .001; effect size [ES] 0.51), general mathematics (P < .001; ES 0.42), and spelling (P < .001; ES 0.45) scores. This equates to 4 months more learning gains in comparison with the control group. No differences were found on the reading test.
        • Results of a feasibility cluster randomised controlled trial of a peer-led school-based intervention to increase the physical activity of adolescent girls (PLAN-A), Simon J. Sebire, et.al., International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, (7 June 2018). Most adolescent girls in the UK do not meet government physical activity recommendations and effective interventions are needed. This study reports the results of a feasibility trial of PLAN-A, a novel school-based peer-led physical activity intervention for adolescent girls.
        • Tackling childhood obesity through a school-based physical activity programme: a cluster randomised trial, Tania Santina, Dominique Beaulieu, Camille Gagné, et.al., International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, (14 March 2020). The present study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of a theory- and evidence-based intervention for promoting physical activity (PA) among children by changing PA-related psychosocial variables and reducing obesity and screen time outside school hours. A cluster randomised trial was conducted on two Lebanese elementary schools involving 374 children aged 10–12 years. While a control group received the standard curriculum, an intervention group received a 14-week school-based intervention comprising changes in the school environment, increased opportunities for PA provided by educational staff and PA-related learning activities. Compared with the control group, significant increases were observed in the general PA levels and proportion of physically active children within 1 week. The proportion of children engaged in ≥30-min daily school-based moderate-to-vigorous PA MVPA increased from 0% to 67%. The intervention group showed significant improvement in almost all psychosocial variables. The children’s BMI class and waist circumference significantly reduced with the intervention. The intervention was effective in increasing the children’s general PA levels and school-based MVPA and in decreasing BMI and waist circumference.

        resources iconResources

        • Brain Breaks, The Foundation for Global Community Health. Brain Breaks® is an online platform designed for teachers to support whole school, whole community, whole child (WCWCC) and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Used before school, during school, and after school hours, these 3-5 minute web-based games, videos, and resource links provide focused educational “shorts” to teach, raise awareness, and inspire kids to take action in creating a better world for themselves and others. 

        Video iconVideos

        • The best kindergarten you've ever seen, Takaharu Tezuka, TEDxKyoto, (September 2014). At this school in Tokyo, five-year-olds cause traffic jams and windows are for Santa to climb into. Meet: the world's cutest kindergarten, designed by architect Takaharu Tezuka. In this charming talk, he walks us through a design process that really lets kids be kids. One of the highlights is the amount of exercise/distance that children do daily, an average of 4,000m during free play. 
        • ‘Can’t Run, Can’t Throw’ – Findings of NSW children's lack of fundamental movement skillsDr Louise Hardy, Senior Research Fellow, Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity Research Group (PANORG), University of Sydney, Smart Talk Seminar Series, Australian Institute of Sport, (27 August 2012).

          Active places and spaces

          Infrastructure and public spaces can play a key role in increasing PA. Accessible green spaces and actively promoting and facilitating safe active transport can have a significant impact on communities.
          Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.

          Blog iconMedia Releases

          • Australian Adventure Activity Standard and Good Practice Guides endorsed (PDF  - 80 KB), Australian Department of Tourism, Sport and Culture, (19 November 2019). The Australian Adventure Activity Standard (AAAS) and Good Practice Guides (GPG) have officially been released after being endorsed by Australian Ministers for Sport earlier this month. The AAAS and GPG are the result of a four-year project to harmonise existing State/Territory adventure Activity Standards into the first national voluntary framework for good practice, risk and safety management for led outdoor adventure activities in Australia.
          • National Obesity Strategy: have your say, Australian Government, Department of Health, COAG Health Council, (4 November 2019-15 December 2019). To address this significant public health challenge, the Australian and state and territory governments through the COAG Health Council have agreed to develop a national obesity strategy.
          • Parks and Leisure Australia Partnership to enhance community health and wellbeing, Sport Australia/Parks and Leisure Australia, (12 November 2019). Sport Australia Chief Executive Kate Palmer and PLA President Paul Jane signed a partnership agreement at PLA's national conference in Perth last month that will, in the future, expand into a memorandum of understanding on the peak body and Federal agency’s shared areas of interest.
          • Steering Committee Established For National Preventive Health Strategy, The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, Australian Government, (19 September 2019). The Strategy aims to help Australians improve their health at all stages of life, through early intervention, better information and targeting modifiable risk factors, and the broader causes of poor health. At its core, the Strategy will provide clear and measurable proposals to empower Australians to take a proactive approach to their health and wellbeing. 

          Finder iconPrograms

          • Beat the street. Designed and run by Intelligent Health and supported by Sport England this 12-month community intervention uses gamification to encourage residents in targeted areas to walk and cycle around their local environment by using walk tracking technology linked to a reward scheme. The aim of the intervention is to promote long term changes in healthy behaviours (i.e. increasing active transport and general physical activity). The Evidence Base on Intelligent Health's website provides some case study examples of positive results from several different trials in areas such as physical activity; active travel; mental health; social cohesion; and, addressing inequality.  
          • Switch: Embracing active travel for health, Final Report, Swennen B, Baltatzi E, Panozzo N, Mayne K and Unbehaun W, European Union, (2016). The Switch project helped planning and transport practitioners conduct organised campaigns designed to get people to ‘switch’ from car journeys to walking and cycling. 

          ReadingReading

          • Increased Economic Activity following Bike Lane Installation in TorontoUniversity of British Columbia, (30 October 2017). The Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) reports that economic activity along the section of Bloor Street that saw bicycle lanes installed was higher than elsewhere along the corridor. The total growth in customer spending in the pilot area was 4.45% (City of Toronto). In addition, cycling trips nearly tripled between 2015 and 2017, with “most merchants report[ing] a higher number of customers than before the bike lane’s installation” (TCAT). 
          • Some practical tips for promoting walking, and tackling health inequities, Melissa Sweet (ed.), Melinda Craike, Toni Hilland and Bojana Klepac Pogrmilovic, Croakey, (12 May 2020). Researchers urge governments to use the pandemic as an opportunity to strategically invest in safe infrastructure, transform Australian cities into meccas for walking and cycling, and reduce the gaps between disadvantaged and affluent areas.
          • Vancouver's bike lane greenways led to an uptick in physical activity: study, Kenneth Chan, Urbanized, (25 March 2019). There is a correlation between a heightened level of physical activity and living close proximity to an urban greenway, according to a new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia. 
          • When this community took on the obesity epidemic, it came up with 400 solutions, Felicity Ogilvie, ABC News, (29 January 2020). Hamilton residents put forward 400 suggestions, ranging from the development of a food co-op, to produce swaps, to taking measures to encourage breastfeeding. One of the programs that has been put into action allows parents to drop their children 800 metres from school so they can walk the distance.

          Report iconReports

          • Active Citizens Worldwide: annual report 2019 (PDF  - 10.9 MB), Active Citizens Worldwide, (2019). Now in the second year ACW works to provide compelling evidence from participating cities (Auckland, London, Singapore, Stockholm) to shed light on the value of sport and physical activity (economic, health, social) and the complex systemic interplay between socio-economics, demographics, policy, and sport/physical activity participation. Some highlights of the report include: Physically active individuals are: 6% happier; 28% more trusting of community: have 6% higher life satisfaction; and, 14% less psychologically distressed. Sport can also lead to more time spent with others. For every hour spend doing sport, 48 minutes are spent with other people; for non-sport exercise 1 hour=23 minutes spent with others. The report also highlights that well-off individuals are up to 1.7 times more likely to be active than those less well-off and the participation gap between men and women remains pronounced in all participating cities. Section 4 provides information on how  policy-makers can increase physical activity through insight-led policy. 
          • Addressing the social and commercial determinants of healthy weight: : an Evidence Check rapid review, Friel S and Goldman S., Sax Institute for Queensland Health, (2019). This review examines the social and commercial determinants of healthy eating, physical activity and obesity, and identifies effective and promising interventions focused on the social and commercial determinants of health that could be implemented in Australia to improve healthy weight. Included studies focused on structural factors (income, education, occupation) and on daily living conditions (childhood development, physical environment and social capital). The review finds that leadership and stewardship roles of the health sector are critical to action.
          • Blueprint for an active Australia (second edition) (PDF  - 12.7 MB), National Heart Foundation of Australia, (2014). Physical inactivity is a major risk factor that contributes to Australia’s growing and significant burden of chronic disease. In recognising the significant challenges of getting more people more active, the Blueprint for an active Australia outlines a holistic approach to physical activity. Example initiatives found in the Blueprint cover: (1) built environments and planning reforms to create places that promote walking and cycling; (2) incorporation of physical activity programs in schools, workplaces and age-care settings; (3) delivery of affordable and accessible evidence-based physical activity programs; (4) increased support for sporting and active recreation clubs. Overcoming the many barriers to physical activity requires a multi-sector response, led by governments and implemented at the community level.
          • Building Active Communities (PDF  - 2.7 MB), Intelligent Health, (2016?). Provides an overview of how the Beat the Street physical activity program is run as well as examples of positive outcomes from existing programs. Aimed primarily at local government groups looking to invest in the program. 
          • Health and Wellbeing Position PaperParks and Leisure Australia, (2018). This position paper was developed by Parks and Leisure Australia (PLA) for use by the PLA board, regional councils, members and stakeholders to identify key issues and priorities for the parks and leisure industry relating to community health and wellbeing.  It specifically outlines: the key health and wellbeing challenges facing the industry; the value of parks and leisure to community health and wellbeing; an overview of the parks and leisure industry’s role in community health and wellbeing. 
          • Population-level strategies to support healthy weight: an Evidence Check rapid review, Sacks G, Looi E, Cameron A, Backholer K, Strugnell C et al. Sax Institute for Queensland Health, (2019). This review was commissioned to inform the development of the National Obesity Strategy. It identified population-level interventions, programs and policy approaches that are effective in improving healthy eating and physical activity. The review found 31 interventions related to food systems, physical activity, public policy, regulation and legislation. Those targeting community action, personal skill development and social marking were also identified.
            • Evidence brief: How can Australia tackle the obesity epidemic? (PDF  - 852 KB), Sax Institute for Queensland Health, (2019). Examples of the initiatives found to be effective include: increasing the price of unhealthy food and drinks; reducing the exposure of children to the promotion of unhealthy food and drinks; and support school and workplace interventions to reduce prolonged sitting times and enable physical activity. 
          • Towards More Physical Activity in Cities: Transforming public spaces to promote physical activity — a key contributor to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in EuropeWorld Health Organisation (Europe) and the European Commission, (November 2017). This publication focuses on physical activity and how it can be supported through urban planning. With more than 80% of the European population expected to live in urban areas by 2030, cities play a pivotal role in promoting and protecting health and well-being. As cities continue to expand in population, there is a growing need to develop ways of supporting physical activity in dense urban settings. 
          • What do people get out of Beat the Street? Feedback from Reading (PDF  - 707 KB), Intelligent Health/Reading Borough Council, (July 2015). Provides a summary of survey results following the 2015 round of Beat the Street held in Reading. The most commonly reported benefits of the program were: feeling more healthy; getting fit; exploring the local area; having fun; spending time with friends and family; and, feeling part of the community. Overall, survey respondents thought that the program was successful and should be continued - although some technical issues could be improved. 

          Research iconResearch

          • Air Quality and Exercise-Related Health Benefits from Reduced Car Travel in the Midwestern United States, Maggie L. Grabow,corresponding author1,2 Scott N. Spak,1,3,4 Tracey Holloway, et.al., Environmental Health Perspective, Volume 120(1), pp.68-76, (January 2012). This study sought to quantify benefits from reducing automobile usage for short urban and suburban trips (round trips ≤ 8 km) in 11 metropolitan areas in the upper midwestern United States. Overall the authors conclude that significant health benefits could be accrued through making a relatively small change to the number of short distance car trips. For example: making 50% of short trips by bicycle would yield savings of approximately $3.8 billion/year from avoided mortality and reduced health care costs. The estimated combined benefits of improved air quality and physical fitness would exceed $8 billion/year.
          • An exploratory analysis of the interactions between social norms and the built environment on cycling for recreation and transport, Matthew Bourke, Toni A Hilland & Melinda Craike, BMC Public Health, Volume 18, Article number: 1162, (2018). The interactive effect found in this study provides some evidence that the workplace built environment interacts with perceived group norms to influence cycling for transport. Positive perceptions of the workplace built environment, such as showers and secure bike racks, can somewhat compensate for the negative influence of when cycling is considered less of a norm among, family, friend or colleagues. However, the findings of this study did not support that the neighbourhood built environment and perceived social norms interact to influence cycling for recreation or transport. These findings contribute to the knowledge of how multiple factors may reciprocate to influence individual’s decision to cycle. More research into the interactive effects of socio-ecological factors is warranted. 
          • Causal evaluation of urban greenway retrofit: A longitudinal study on physical activity and sedentary behavior, Lawrence D. Frank, Andy Hong, Victor Douglas Ngo, Preventive Medicine, Volume 123, pp.109-116, (June 2019). This study assessed the effect of retrofitting an urban greenway on physical activity and sedentary behaviour in Vancouver, Canada. A sample of 524 participants (median age of 44; 57% female) were divided into experimental and control groups, and the effect of exposure to the greenway was examined by using different distance thresholds. Self-report measures of moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) and SB were collected using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ-SF) before (baseline; 2012–2013) and after (follow-up; 2014–2015) construction of the Comox-Helmcken Greenway in 2013. Mixed-effects models estimated the impacts of greenway on MVPA and SB. For participants living near the greenway (≤300 m), the odds of achieving an average of 20 min of daily MVPA doubled (OR = 2.00; 95% CI = 1.00, 3.98) after the greenway's opening. The odds of being sedentary for >9 h declined by 54% (OR = 0.46; 95% CI = 0.25, 0.85) after opening.
          • Correlates of walking among disadvantaged groups: A systematic review, Toni A. Hilland, Matthew Bourke, Glen Wiesner, Enrique Garcia Bengoechea, Alexandra G. Parker, Michaela Pascoe, Melinda Craike, Health and Place, Volume 63, (May 2020). This paper reviewed evidence from 35 studies that examined factors associated with walking participation among disadvantaged groups. People who experience disadvantage are less likely to be physically active than those who are more affluent. Walking is an important form of physical activity that is low cost and accessible. Findings of the review suggest that the following should be considered to increase walking participation among disadvantaged groups: 
            • Addressing safety concerns through improved lighting, reducing the level and speed of traffic, and increased community cohesion 
            • Increasing social ties and networks, for example through walking groups
            • Improving the attractiveness of neighbourhoods through well maintained open space, clean streets, well maintained amenities and gardens
            • Increasing neighbourhood walkability by designing neighbourhoods to be pedestrian friendly e.g., improving walking infrastructure, street connectivity, amenities within walking distance 
          • Gamification of active travel to school: A pilot evaluation of the Beat the Street physical activity intervention, Emma Coombes and Andy Jones, Health Place, Volume 39, pp.62-29, (May 2016). Beat the Street aims to get children more active by encouraging them to walk and cycle in their neighbourhood using tracking technology with a reward scheme. This pilot study evaluates the impact of Beat the Street on active travel to school in Norwich, UK. Eighty children 8–10 yrs were recruited via an intervention and control school. Overall results indicated that overall physical activity was not higher at follow-up in comparison between intervention and control schools. However, active travel did increase at intervention schools, while decreasing at control schools. Additionally, children who were more engaged in the program (i.e. touched a sensor more frequently) did increase MVPA during active commuting. The authors suggest that more work is needed to understand how to improve engagement and to determine what impact this might have on impact outcomes. 
          • Health impact assessment of active transportation: A systematic review, Mueller N, Rojas-Rueda D, Cole-Hunter T, de Nazelle A, Dons E, Gerike R, Gotschi T, Panis L, Kahlmeier S and Nieuwenhuijsen M, Preventive Medicine, Volume 76, (July 2015). Walking and cycling for transportation (i.e. active transportation, AT) provide substantial health benefits from increased physical activity (PA). However, there are risks of injury from exposure to motorized traffic and their emissions (i.e. air pollution). The objective of this study was to systematically review studies that looked at the associated health benefits and risks of a mode shift to AT. Thirty studies met the analysis criteria, originating predominantly from Europe, but also the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Despite different methodologies being applied and different assumptions, AT was shown to provide substantial net health benefits, irrespective of geographical context.
          • Highlights from the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Systematic Review, King Abby C, et al., Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Volume 51(6), pp.1340–1353 (June 2019). Purpose This article describes effective interventions to promote regular physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior that were identified as part of the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report.
          • Mixed‐method evaluation of a community‐wide physical activity program in Launceston, Australia, Lucy Byrne, et.al., Health Promotion Journal of Australia, Volume 30(51), pp.104-115, (December 2019). Interventions to increase physical activity are common, though few examples of multi‐strategy, wide‐scale community programs exist. Active Launceston is a community‐wide program aimed at improving health and well‐being through physical activity. We report on the process evaluation of Active Launceston and changes in community physical activity participation between 2008 and 2015, as a measure of program effectiveness. The mixed‐method evaluation suggests Active Launceston is an effective community‐wide program supporting community members to engage in regular physical activity and increase levels of social engagement.
          • Moderating effect of gender on the associations of perceived attributes of the neighbourhood environment and social norms on transport cycling behaviours, Matthew Bourke, Melinda Craike, Toni A.Hilland, Journal of Transport and Health, Volume 13, pp.63-71, (June 2019). Results from this study suggest that to increase rates of transport cycling in women it may be necessary to increase the convenience of cycling in neighbourhoods for multiple purposes, such as going to the shops, running errands, or escorting children. Additionally, improving social norms towards cycling may increase rates of commuter cycling in both men and women.
          • Toward Whole-of-System Action to Promote Physical Activity: A Cross-Sectoral Analysis of Physical Activity Policy in Australia, Tracy Nau, et.al., Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Volume 16(11), pp.1029-1038, (2019). This study describes current PA-relevant policy in Australia and identifies opportunities for improving coordination, implementation, and evaluation to strengthen a whole-of-system and cross-agency approach to increasing population PA.

          resources iconResources

          • Health promotion package: Physical activityDanish Health Authority, (2020). The purpose of the physical activity health promotion package is to support the municipalities’ work to provide the citizens with great opportunities for being physically active throughout their life in order to prevent disease retain functional capacity and support good well-being. 

          Video iconVideos

          • The best kindergarten you've ever seen, Takaharu Tezuka, TEDxKyoto, (September 2014). At this school in Tokyo, five-year-olds cause traffic jams and windows are for Santa to climb into. Meet: the world's cutest kindergarten, designed by architect Takaharu Tezuka. In this charming talk, he walks us through a design process that really lets kids be kids. One of the highlights is the amount of exercise/distance that children do daily, an average of 4,000m during free play. 
          • Local Government engagement, Gibbs M, Director Policy and Sector Development, NSW Office of Local Government. Presentation given at the NSW Premier’s Council for Active Living (PCAL), Fit NSW 2016 Conference (March 2016). Topics covered in the FitNSW Conference – childhood obesity, preventive health, and active transport.  

          Workplaces

          Encourage employees to be more active and less sedentary. Consider promoting and facilitating walking meetings; shower and change facilities for active transport and lunch time activities; workplace challenges.
          Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.

          ReadingReading

          • Back shifts and push-ups: Scientists urge firms to give staff 15-minute paid exercise a day to help cure £26bn sick days, Gordon Blackstock, The Sunday Post, (1 March 2020). Giving desk-based workers paid exercise breaks would cut down on absence rates and boost productivity, according to research.
          • How healthful nudges help you get – and stay – active during your workday, ParticipACTION, (2 October 2019). In the workplace, nudges can be used to encourage people to sneak in extra physical activity and limit hours of uninterrupted sitting. They’re a wonderful way to help shift the overall culture of your workplace to one that embraces and supports physical activity, regardless of what your workplace looks like.
          • Why It’s Time We Paid Employees to Exercise at Work, Ryan Holmes, Medium.com, (21 March 2015). Given how critical fitness is to overall health, I think it’s worth taking a look at exercise in the one place where nearly all of us will spend a good chunk of our lives: the workplace. My observations are anecdotal — pulled from experiences in my own company — but I think the lessons learned can apply more broadly.
          • Work Better, ParticipACTION, (October 2019). Regular activity breaks increase blood flow to your brain, resulting in better focus and attention. What if the secret to being your best at work, while increasing your job satisfaction is as easy as getting moving? Spoiler alert! It is.

          Report iconReports

          • A Healthier Workplace: how employers can reduce physical inactivity (PDF  - 28.8 MB), Nuffield Health White Paper commissioned by Sport England, (2018). Our white paper, commissioned by Sport England,  collates and assesses the latest evidence on the impact of interventions in the workplace to get employees more active. It provides an evaluation of the interventions that UK employers might wish to consider when looking to support their employees in leading healthier, more active working lives. A shorter overview presentation is also available (PDF  - 20.2 MB).
          • Addressing the social and commercial determinants of healthy weight: : an Evidence Check rapid review, Friel S and Goldman S., Sax Institute for Queensland Health, (2019). This review examines the social and commercial determinants of healthy eating, physical activity and obesity, and identifies effective and promising interventions focused on the social and commercial determinants of health that could be implemented in Australia to improve healthy weight. Included studies focused on structural factors (income, education, occupation) and on daily living conditions (childhood development, physical environment and social capital). The review finds that leadership and stewardship roles of the health sector are critical to action.
          • Blueprint for an active Australia (second edition) (PDF  - 12.7 MB), National Heart Foundation of Australia, (2014). Physical inactivity is a major risk factor that contributes to Australia’s growing and significant burden of chronic disease. In recognising the significant challenges of getting more people more active, the Blueprint for an active Australia outlines a holistic approach to physical activity. Example initiatives found in the Blueprint cover: (1) built environments and planning reforms to create places that promote walking and cycling; (2) incorporation of physical activity programs in schools, workplaces and age-care settings; (3) delivery of affordable and accessible evidence-based physical activity programs; (4) increased support for sporting and active recreation clubs. Overcoming the many barriers to physical activity requires a multi-sector response, led by governments and implemented at the community level.
          • The economics of exercise: Measuring the business benefit of being physically fitPJM Economics for AXA PPP healthcare, (September 2019). Highlights the substantial return on investment businesses could stand to make from increasing physical activity levels among employees. According to the study, if all employees met the recommended guidelines of doing 75 minutes of vigorous activity or 150 minutes of moderate activity per week (just over 20 minutes per day), it could deliver up to £6.6 billion in direct productivity gains to businesses each year.  
          • Increasing Physical Activity and Decreasing Sedentary Behaviour in the Workplace (PDF  - 4.5 MB), Alberta Centre for Active Living, (2015). The purpose of this review was to identify the best workplace interventions to support employees moving more and sitting less. Four interrelated types of intervention were identified, challenges and competitions, information and counselling, organisational culture and norms, and access and the physical environment. A series of four documents, each targeting a type of intervention, were developed to provide more detailed information pertaining to the implications of the findings from the systematic review.
          • Population-level strategies to support healthy weight: an Evidence Check rapid review, Sacks G, Looi E, Cameron A, Backholer K, Strugnell C et al. Sax Institute for Queensland Health, (2019). This review was commissioned to inform the development of the National Obesity Strategy. It identified population-level interventions, programs and policy approaches that are effective in improving healthy eating and physical activity. The review found 31 interventions related to food systems, physical activity, public policy, regulation and legislation. Those targeting community action, personal skill development and social marking were also identified.
            • Evidence brief: How can Australia tackle the obesity epidemic? (PDF  - 852 KB), Sax Institute for Queensland Health, (2019). Examples of the initiatives found to be effective include: increasing the price of unhealthy food and drinks; reducing the exposure of children to the promotion of unhealthy food and drinks; and support school and workplace interventions to reduce prolonged sitting times and enable physical activity. 

          Research iconResearch

          • Do highly physically active workers die early? A systematic review with meta-analysis of data from 193 696 participants, Pieter Coenen, et.al., British Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 52(20), pp.1320-1326, (2018). 2490 unique articles were screened and 33 (from 26 studies) were included. Data from 17 studies (with 193 696 participants) were used in a meta-analysis, showing that men with high level occupational physical activity had an 18% increased risk of early mortality compared with those engaging in low level occupational physical activity. No such association was observed among women, for whom instead a tendency for an inverse association was found. The authors conclude that he results of this review indicate detrimental health consequences associated with high level occupational physical activity in men, even when adjusting for relevant factors (such as leisure time physical activity). These findings suggest that research and physical activity guidelines may differentiate between occupational and leisure time physical activity.
          • Effects of Physical Exercise Training in the Workplace on Physical Fitness: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis, Olaf Prieske, et.al., Sports Medicine, Volume 49(2), pp.1903-1921, (December 2019). Overall, 3423 workers aged 30–56 years participated in 17 studies (19 articles) that were eligible for inclusion. Methodological quality of the included studies was moderate with a median PEDro score of 6. Analyses revealed significant, small-sized effects of PET on cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), muscular endurance, and muscle power. Medium effects were found for CRF and muscular endurance in younger workers (≤ 45 years) and white-collar workers, respectively. Multivariate random effects meta-regression for CRF revealed that none of the examined training modalities predicted the effects of PET on CRF. Independently computed subgroup analyses showed significant PET effects on CRF when conducted for 9–12 weeks and for 17–20 weeks. The authors conclude that PET effects on physical fitness in healthy workers are moderated by age (CRF) and occupation type (muscular endurance). Further, independently computed subgroup analyses indicated that the training period of the PET programs may play an important role in improving CRF in workers.
          • Exercising at work and self‐reported work performance, J.C. Coulson, J. McKenna, M. Field, International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Volume 1(3), pp.176-197, (2008). The purpose of this paper is to address the interplay of workplace exercising on self‐reported workplace performance. Three workplaces (two private companies, one public service organisation) were purposefully selected for their provision of on‐site exercise facilities, size (>250 employees) and large proportion of sedentary occupations. Among 201 volunteer respondents (67 per cent female, mean age 38.2 years), mood improved on ExD, pre‐to‐post exercise (all p<0.01). Performance indicators were higher on ExD, versus NExD (all p<0.01), independent of exercise specifics and workload. Positive changes in performance outcomes were almost exclusively linked to changes in mood. Inductive analysis of focus groups revealed 13 (of 17) themes exhibiting positive outcomes. Employee tolerance and resilience were central to the subjective findings. 
          • Highlights from the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Systematic Review, King Abby C, et al., Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Volume 51(6), pp.1340–1353 (June 2019). Purpose This article describes effective interventions to promote regular physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior that were identified as part of the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report.
          • Physical activity in paid work time for desk-based employees: a qualitative study of employers' and employees' perspectives, Ryde GC, Atkinson P, Stead M, Gorely T & Evans J., BMC Public Health, Volume 20(article 460), (2020). This study suggests that there are significant barriers to PA in paid work time. Whilst numerous anticipated benefits were conveyed by both employees and managers, PA in paid work time is unlikely to become common place until changes in attitudes and the culture towards movement at work occur.
          • Project Energise: Using participatory approaches and real time computer prompts to reduce occupational sitting and increase work time physical activity in office workers, Nicholas D. Gilson, Norman Ng, Toby G. Pavey, et.al., Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Volume 19(11), pp.926-930, (November 2016). In this sample of office workers, real time computer prompts facilitated the impact of a participatory approach on reductions in occupational sedentary exposure, and increases in physical activity.
          • Sponsorship-based health care programs and their impact on employees’ motivation for physical activity, Rune Bjerke, Ingunn Elvekrok, European Sport Management Quarterly, (9 March 2020). This study investigates the impact of a healthcare portal and employee attitude toward a healthcare program on sponsorship-based employee motivation to do physical exercises. The findings show that the user-friendliness of the healthcare portal, and the attitude towards the health care program are significant predictors of employees’ sponsorship-based motivation to do physical exercises. These findings held when controlling for sex, education, income, portal usage, and physical activity level.
          • Time-efficient and computer-guided sprint interval exercise training for improving health in the workplace: a randomised mixed-methods feasibility study in office-based employees, Metcalfe RS, Atef H, Mackintosh K, McNarry M, Ryde G, Hill DM & Vollaard NBJ, BMC Public Health, Volume 20(article 313), (2020). The objective of this study was to use mixed methods to investigate the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of a short-duration, high-intensity exercise intervention (REHIT) when applied unsupervised in a workplace setting. Qualitative data revealed that REHIT offered a time-efficient opportunity to exercise, that was perceived as achievable, and which encouraged highly valued post-exercise outcomes (e.g. progress towards health/fitness benefits).

          resources iconResources

          • Active Workplace Audit Toolkit, Alberta Health Services & Centre for Active Living, (2019). The key purpose of this toolkit is to provide an audit tool for workplace champions, human resource professionals, and health and wellness promoters to identify how to support office-based employees to move more and sit less.
          • CAL's Workplace Physical Activity Policy. Centre of Active Living, (1 October 2016). As an organization dedicated to increasing physical activity, we are committed to creating and maintaining an organizational culture that encourages and supports daily physical activity among employees. If your workplace does not have a physical activity policy, feel free to adapt ours.
          • Physical Activity Strategy Kit, Alberta Health Services, (accessed 13 January 2020). The Physical Activity Toolkit provides practical guidance in promoting physical activity in the workplace. It can be used as part of the Healthier Together Workplace Program to create a comprehensive workplace health strategy or on its own to support workplace health action.

          Video iconVideos

          • Move Your Workforce with UPnGO with ParticipACTION, Participaction/YouTube, (9 May 2018). Video explaining a Canadian program UPnGO which helps deskbound workplaces seamlessly integrate fun, rewarding, and healthy behaviour programming into the workday to help employees be at their best. 

            Healthcare

            Exercise is medicine. Ensure assessment and advice about PA are routine; prescribe PA where appropriate to reduce health risk factors, combat effects of disease and improve general health and wellbeing.
            Where possible, direct links to full-text and online resources are provided. However, where links are not available, you may be able to access documents directly by searching our licenced full-text databases (note: user access restrictions apply). Alternatively, you can ask your institutional, university, or local library for assistance—or purchase documents directly from the publisher. You may also find the information you’re seeking by searching Google Scholar.

            Finder iconPrograms

            • goget.fit. The GoGet.Fit application is a tool connecting health and fitness professionals and educators supporting individuals in their pursuit to become active. 
            • parkrun practice Initiative. The UK Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) is partnering with parkrun UK to promote the health and wellbeing of staff and patients. Under this initiative, GP practices across the UK are encouraged to develop close links with their local parkrun to become parkrun practices. 
            • parkrun practice Toolkit (PDF  - 1.4 MB), Royal College of General Practitioners and parkrun UK, (2018). 

            Reading Reading

            • 12 minutes more: The importance of physical activity, sports and exercise in order to improve health, personal Finances and the pressures on the NHS (PDF  - 1.6 MB), Lordan G, Pakrashi D and Jones A, Nuffield Health, UK,(2013). This report cites current research that supports the value of sport and physical activity for long-term health benefits. The report also links sport and physical activity to personal financial and population-wide economic benefits. Realising the benefits of sport, exercise and physical activity does not require expensive structural change to the public sector or government legislation. We simply need a more exercise friendly environment and a change of attitude, asking ourselves ‘How do we get an extra 12 minutes of physical activity into our day?’
            • Active Practice Charter launched, Sport England, (1 August 2019). We’ve teamed up with the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) to launch the Active Practice Charter that inspires and celebrates GP practices that are taking steps to increase activity in their patients and staff.
            • Australia's First Modern Decline In Life Expectancy Due To Obesity, Cayla Dengate, HuffPost Health, (16 July 2016). Highlights a British medical journal The Lancet article that found that for every increase in BMI unit after the overweight range, there was an increase in the risk of premature death by around one third. Quotes from several academics highlight the potential negative impact of these findings on the health of Australia's children.
            • Exercise helps kids with cancer: Exercise guidelines, research, and practice in pediatric oncology, Amanda Wurz, et.al., WellSpring, (1 April 2019). This WellSpring highlights the various programs that support free physical activity opportunities developed for children and youth that have been diagnosed with cancer, survivors of pediatric cancer, and their siblings, as a means to support and empower them to be physically active and experience a sense of normalcy.
            • GoGet.Fit: Connecting practitioners to support individuals in their pursuit to become active, Wellspring, Centre for Acitve Living, (5 March 2019). The GoGet.Fit application is one tool that can be used by healthcare professionals to help support clients’ physical activity and progress in building an active lifestyle. This WellSpring provides an overview of the GoGet.Fit app’s features, as well as some of its successes.
            • If your knee hurts, keep exercising, says expert, Ewa M Roos, Professor of Muscle and Joint Health, University of Southern Denmark, The Conversation, (20 March 2018). If you take up exercise later in life, as a treatment for joint or hip pain, you should expect a small, temporary increase in pain. But if you proceed sensibly, you will be rewarded with pain relief similar to that of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen, and twice that of a non-prescription painkiller, such as paracetamol. In fact, the pain relief from taking up exercise is large enough that many people put their knee or hip surgery on hold.
            • It’s on your bike to wellness as Cardiff is first UK city to offer nextbike on prescription, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board media release, (8 May 2019). Launching on Wednesday (May 8) the groundbreaking pilot scheme will allow local GPs in Cardiff to prescribe patients with a six month membership to nextbike – as doctors say regular cycling could cut the risk of death from heart disease by half.
            • Making the case for public health interventions (PDF  - 3.1 MB), The King’s Fund and the Local Government Association, United Kingdom, (2014). Infographics that help to illustrate the case that funding preventive health programs makes good economic sense. The return on investment for the ‘Be Active’ program is estimated to be £23 for every £1 spent.
            • Participation in physical activity: A determinant of mental and physical health, Research Summary (PDF  - 261 KB), VicHealth, (2010).
            • Physical activity and type 2 diabetes (PDF  - 200 KB), Diabetes Australia fact sheet, (August 2009). 
            • Physical activity helps fight genetic risk of heart diseaseStanford Medicine News, (9 April 2018). In an observational study of almost a half-million participants, Stanford researchers discovered an association between high fitness levels and low heart disease, even among those at genetic risk.
            • Referrals to exercise physiologists should be a priority for Australian GPs (PDF  - 233 KB), Exercise Right, (18 November 2019). To help educate doctors and practice nurses as to the importance of exercise for their patients, Exercise Right is once again partnering with Exercise is Medicine® (EIM) Australia for “Exercise Right for Doctors” week. 
            • Survey reveals health professionals prescribing parkrun to boost Australia’s health, parkrun Australia, (30 September 2019). A survey of almost 3,000 Australian-based health professionals has revealed the extent to which patients are being signposted to parkrun events around the country, as an alternative to more ‘traditional’ medication or to complement existing treatment.

            Report iconReports

            • Addressing the social and commercial determinants of healthy weight: : an Evidence Check rapid review, Friel S and Goldman S., Sax Institute for Queensland Health, (2019). This review examines the social and commercial determinants of healthy eating, physical activity and obesity, and identifies effective and promising interventions focused on the social and commercial determinants of health that could be implemented in Australia to improve healthy weight. Included studies focused on structural factors (income, education, occupation) and on daily living conditions (childhood development, physical environment and social capital). The review finds that leadership and stewardship roles of the health sector are critical to action.
            • American College of Sports Medicine Roundtable Report on Physical Activity, Sedentary Behavior, and Cancer Prevention and Control, Patel AV, et.al., Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Volume 51(11), pp.2391-2402, (November 2019). The American College of Sports Medicine convened an International Multidisciplinary Roundtable on Exercise and Cancer in March 2018 to evaluate and translate the evidence linking physical activity and cancer prevention, treatment, and control. Collectively, there is consistent, compelling evidence that physical activity plays a role in preventing many types of cancer and for improving longevity among cancer survivors, although the evidence related to higher risk of melanoma demonstrates the importance of sun safe practices while being physically active. Together, these findings underscore the importance of physical activity in cancer prevention and control. Fitness and public health professionals and health care providers worldwide are encouraged to spread the message to the general population and cancer survivors to be physically active as their age, abilities, and cancer status will allow.
            • Everybody Active, Every Day: An evidence-based approach to physical activity (PDF  - 1.3 MB), Varney J, Brannan M and Aaltonen G, Public Health England, (2014). This report from Public Health England, an autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health, provides evidence that physical activity reduces the risk of many preventable diseases. It also supports the role of physical activity in enhancing the life of everyone, from children to mature age. 
            • Population-level strategies to support healthy weight: an Evidence Check rapid review, Sacks G, Looi E, Cameron A, Backholer K, Strugnell C et al. Sax Institute for Queensland Health, (2019). This review was commissioned to inform the development of the National Obesity Strategy. It identified population-level interventions, programs and policy approaches that are effective in improving healthy eating and physical activity. The review found 31 interventions related to food systems, physical activity, public policy, regulation and legislation. Those targeting community action, personal skill development and social marking were also identified.
              • Evidence brief: How can Australia tackle the obesity epidemic? (PDF  - 852 KB), Sax Institute for Queensland Health, (2019). Examples of the initiatives found to be effective include: increasing the price of unhealthy food and drinks; reducing the exposure of children to the promotion of unhealthy food and drinks; and support school and workplace interventions to reduce prolonged sitting times and enable physical activity. 

            Research iconResearch

            • Comparative effectiveness of exercise and drug interventions on mortality outcomes: epidemiological study, Naci H and Loannidis J, British Medical Journal, ( 22 August 2013). This study conducted a meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials with mortality outcomes comparing the effectiveness of exercise treatments and drug interventions with each other, or with a placebo control. Although limited in number, existing randomised trial evidence on exercise interventions suggests that exercise and many drug interventions produce similar outcomes in terms of their mortality benefits in the secondary prevention of coronary heart disease, rehabilitation after stroke, treatment of heart failure, and prevention of diabetes. The conclusion is that exercise or increasing physical activity can be an effective treatment or preventive measure for some diseases.
            • Do we need physical activity guidelines for mental health: What does the evidence tell us? MeganTeychenne, et.al., Mental Health and Physical Activity, Volume 18, (March 2020). This paper examined the current global physical activity recommendations for adults in relation to mental health. While acknowledging that current guidelines are based on a comprehensive review of the literature, our review suggests that although the ‘optimal dose’ is uncertain, the physical activity-mental health relationship is apparent even at low doses, but is domain specific. Based on our review, we propose that global recommendations: 1) consider both the prevention of mental ill-being and the promotion of mental well-being. Further, we propose global recommendations include the following two points: 2) do some of your physical activity during leisure-time or in active travel, where possible prioritising activities you enjoy or personally choose to undertake; and 3) some physical activity is better than none for both physical and mental health.
            • Effects of Physical Activity Governmental Programs on Health Status in Independent Older Adults: A Systematic Review, Pablo Antonio Vales-Badilla, et.al., Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, Volume 27(2), pp. 265-275, (2019). This systematic review analyzes the evidence of the effects of physical activity governmental programs oriented toward the health of independent older adults. Medline, Web of Science, PsycINFO, and Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection databases were used for data mining, and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocols recommendations were followed. Five studies (n = 2,545 participants) fulfilled the established inclusion criteria. The physical activity programs had beneficial effects on the older adults’ quality of life, fall risk, activities of daily living, physical activity levels, nutritional risk, body mass index, arterial pressure, resting heart rate, blood glucose, triglycerides, and/or cholesterol, but did not significantly alter their body fat mass percentage. Programs involving diverse physical capacities seem to be more effective for healthy aging. It is recommended that governments start to disseminate the outcomes of these programs within society and the scientific community.
            • Equity of a government subsidised exercise referral scheme: A population study, Melinda Craike, et.al., Social Science & Medicine, Volume 216, pp.20-25, (November 2018). Patients living in areas of greater disadvantage utilised government-subsidised, GP-referred accredited exercise physiologist (AEP) services at a higher rate and paid lower out-of-pocket fees than those living in more affluent areas. Thus, AEP services are equitably distributed, from a utilisation perspective, and acceptable to patients living in areas of disadvantage. However, the higher caseloads and lower fees that characterise AEP services in areas of greater disadvantage may result in shorter consultation times.
            • Exercise as medicine – evidence for prescribing exercise as therapy in 26 different chronic diseases, Pedersen B and Saltin B, Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, Volume 25, Issue Supplement S3, (2015). This review provides an up-to-date evidence-based assessment for prescribing exercise as medicine in the treatment of 26 different diseases: psychiatric diseases (depression, anxiety, stress, schizophrenia); neurological diseases (dementia, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis); metabolic diseases (obesity, hyperlipidemia, metabolic syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome, type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes); cardiovascular diseases (hypertension, coronary heart disease, heart failure, cerebral apoplexy, and claudication intermittent); pulmonary diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, cystic fibrosis); musculo-skeletal disorders (osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, rheumatoid arthritis); and cancer. The effect of exercise therapy on disease pathogenesis and symptoms are given and the possible mechanisms of action are discussed.
            • Exercise as treatment for alcohol use disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis, Hallgren M, Vancampfort D, Giesen E, Lundin A and Stubbs B, British Journal of Sports Medicine, (January 2017). This review looked at studies investigating the effects of exercise for people with alcohol use disorders across multiple health outcomes. 21 studies representing 1,204 unique persons with an alcohol use disorder, mean age 37.8 years and mean illness duration 4.4 years, were included in this review. The available evidence indicates that exercise has no significant impact on reducing alcohol consumption. However, persons with an alcohol use disorder who exercised had significant improvements in other health outcomes, including less depression and improved physical fitness.
            • Exercise is medicine in oncology: Engaging clinicians to help patients move through cancer, Kathryn H. Schmitz, et.al., CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, Volume 69(6), pp.468-484, (November/December 2019). Multiple organizations around the world have issued evidence‐based exercise guidance for patients with cancer and cancer survivors. Recently, the American College of Sports Medicine has updated its exercise guidance for cancer prevention as well as for the prevention and treatment of a variety of cancer health‐related outcomes (eg, fatigue, anxiety, depression, function, and quality of life). Despite these guidelines, the majority of people living with and beyond cancer are not regularly physically active. Among the reasons for this is a lack of clarity on the part of those who work in oncology clinical settings of their role in assessing, advising, and referring patients to exercise. The authors propose using the American College of Sports Medicine's Exercise Is Medicine initiative to address this practice gap. The simple proposal is for clinicians to assess, advise, and refer patients to either home‐based or community‐based exercise or for further evaluation and intervention in outpatient rehabilitation.
            • Exploring the public health potential of a mass community participation event, C. Stevinson  M. Hickson, Journal of Public Health, Volume 36(2), pp.268-274, (June 2014). This study explored the public health potential of parkrun, a UK-wide network of free weekly timed 5-km runs in public parks. Preliminary evidence suggests that parkrun is attractive to non-runners, with women, older adults and overweight people well represented. The observed fitness improvements and perceived benefits indicate the scope for investigating the effectiveness of parkrun as a cost-effective community-based intervention for improving public health.
            • Facilitating Participation in Health-Enhancing Physical Activity: A Qualitative Study of parkrun, Clare Stevinson, Gareth Wiltshire, Mary Hickson, International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Volume 22(2), pp.170-177, (April 2015). This study was aimed at identifying factors contributing to initial and sustained engagement in parkrun in the UK, to inform the design of community-based interventions promoting health-enhancing physical activity. 48 semi-structured interviews with adult parkrun participants were conducted. The authors conclude that specific features of the parkrun experience encouraged participation including the accessible, inclusive ethos, achievement opportunities, and inherent social support, along with the outdoor natural settings, and integrated volunteer system. The inclusion of these elements in community-based interventions may increase success in initiating and maintaining health-enhancing physical activity.
            • Four-year effects of exercise on fatigue and physical activity in patients with cancer, Lenja Witlox, et.al., BMC Medicine, (2018). This study assessed long-term effects of the exercise program on levels of fatigue and physical activity 4 years after participation in the PACT study.Patients with breast or colon cancer who participated in the 18-week exercise intervention showed significant higher levels of moderate-to-vigorous total physical activity levels and a tendency towards lower physical fatigue levels 4 years post-baseline. Our result indicate that exercising during chemotherapy is a promising strategy for minimizing treatment-related side effects, both short and long term.
            • Good Life with osteoArthritis in Denmark (GLA:D™): evidence-based education and supervised neuromuscular exercise delivered by certified physiotherapists nationwide, Søren T. Skou and Ewa M. Roos, BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 18:72, (2017). Good Life with osteoArthritis in Denmark (GLA:D) was launched in 2013 with the aim of implementing guidelines for the treatment of knee and hip OA in clinical care nationwide. The purpose of this report was to evaluate the effects of the GLA:D intervention from 2013 to 2015, using data from the national GLA:D registry. Data from 9,825 participants from the GLA:D registry were utilised in the analyses. It was demonstrated that GLA:D improved pain intensity and quality of life by 12.4 points and 5.4 points at 3 months, and 13.7 points and 9.4 points at 12 months, respectively. Furthermore, physical function and physical activity improved (only at 3 months), fewer patients took painkillers following the treatment, and fewer patients were on sick leave at 12 months following GLA:D compared with the year prior to GLA:D. These results indicate that the program has a significant positive effect on participants and can provides evidence that lifestyle changes, supported by education and supervised exercise, have the potential to improve general health and reduce societal costs. 
            • General practitioner referrals to exercise physiologists during routine practice: A prospective study, Melinda Craike, et.al., Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Volume 22(4), pp.478-483, (April 2019). Physical activity is essential in the primary and secondary prevention of several chronic diseases and should be a standard component of clinical care. The aims of this study were to examine the trends and characteristics of referrals to exercise physiologists in routine care in a nationally representative sample of general practitioners (GPs) in Australia. Although increasing, the rate of GP referral to exercise physiologists was low and associated with patient and GP characteristics. Education of GPs about the role of exercise physiologists in the prevention and management of chronic disease is needed.
            • Lifestyle medicine and physical activity knowledge of final year UK medical students, Dina Radenkovic, et.al., BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, Volume 5(1), (2019).  It has previously been reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that final year UK medical students are lacking knowledge of the physical activity guidelines. This study assesses whether the knowledge and training of final year UK medical students has improved, whether knowledge correlates with lifestyle choices and whether there is a need for lifestyle medicine training, which includes physical activity guidance, to be offered to this cohort. Completed questionnaires (n=158) were analysed and revealed that 52% were unaware of the current exercise guidelines in the UK. 80% stated they had not received training in lifestyle medicine over the last 2 years while 48.1% were unacquainted with motivational interviewing. 76% wanted more lifestyle medicine teaching to be incorporated into the medical school curriculum.
            • Long-term effectiveness of the New Zealand Green Prescription primary health care exercise initiative, Hamlin M, Yule E, Elliot C, Stoner L and Kathiravel Y, Public Health, (October 2016). New Zealand’s Green Prescription program has gained international recognition; it addresses the physical activity needs of persons demonstrating health risk factors. Patients are assessed by a General Practitioner or nurse who recommends an activity prescription. Patients are then referred to the regional sports trust who act as facilitators for behaviour change by connecting the patient to activities and providing support and motivation over a 3-month period. This study examined the longer term effectiveness of the program. A 3 year follow up showed a long-term benefit beyond the initial three month period; however dropout rates were high. 42% of persons who stayed in the program met the recommended physical activity guidelines for adults after three years.
            • Mechanisms of Physical Activity Behavior Change for Prostate Cancer Survivors: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial, Melinda J Craike, Cadeyrn J Gaskin, Mohammadreza Mohebbi, Kerry S Courneya, Patricia M Livingston, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Volume 52(9), pp.798-808, (September 2018). The ENGAGE study was an exercise intervention for prostate cancer survivors, which improved vigorous physical activity (VPA) at postintervention and follow-up. The purpose of this study was to assess (a) whether the intervention improved social cognitive determinants of behavior and (b) the extent to which social cognitive determinants mediated the effect of the exercise intervention on VPA. The results indicated that the intervention improved the belief among prostate cancer survivors that they could perform challenging exercises for longer periods of time, which partially explained the positive effect of the intervention on VPA.
            • Physical activity in the prevention and treatment of disease (PDF  - 3.6 MB), Swedish National Institute of Public Health, (2010). This research summary presents a synopsis of the latest published research examining participation in physical activity. Specifically, the summary focuses on physical activity rates, impacts, barriers and facilitators to participation.
            • Physical activity prescription: a critical opportunity to address a modifiable risk factor for the prevention and management of chronic disease: A position statement by the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine, Thornton J, Fremont P, Khan K, Poirier P, Fowles J, Wells G and Frankovich R, British Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 50(18), (2016). Non-communicable disease is a leading threat to global health and physical inactivity is a large contributor to this problem. Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines (in line with World Health Organization guidelines) for adults, recommend 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week. Physicians play an important role in the dissemination of physical activity (PA) recommendations to a broad segment of the population, as over 80% of Canadians visit their doctors each year, and prefer to get health information directly from them. Unfortunately, most Canadian physicians do not regularly assess or prescribe PA as part of routine health care; and even when discussed, few physicians provide specific recommendations. PA prescription has the potential to be an important therapeutic agent for all ages in primary and secondary prevention of chronic disease. This position statement by the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine provides an evidence-based, best practices summary to better equip primary care physicians in prescribing PA and exercise for the prevention and management of non-communicable disease.
            • Physical activity recommendations from general practitioners in Australia. Results from a national survey, Short C, Hayman M, Rebar A, et.al., Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Volume 40(1), (2016). What type of physical activity advice are Australian adults likely to receive from their general practitioner? This online survey of patients (N=1799) looked at the type of health advice they were provided; patients were divided into eight different population subgroups, based upon body mass index and health risk factors. Overall, only 18% of patients received a physical activity recommendation from their general practitioner (GP) during the past 12 months. However, 54% of the subgroup with the highest risk factors received a physical activity recommendation. The most commonly prescribed physical activity type was aerobic activity. Few participants received specific physical activity advice on strength training and flexibility training. Most patients did not discuss daily sitting-time and other sedentary behaviours with their GP. Overall, these finding suggest that general practitioners are incorporating physical activity promotion into their practice based on patient’s health status, as a secondary prevention or disease management tool, with limited specificity (i.e. type of activity, frequency and duration, intensity, etc.) in their advice. 

            resources iconResources

            • Eating and Activity Guidelines for New Zealand Adults (PDF  - 4.4 MB), McIntyre L and Dutton M, New Zealand Ministry of Health, (2015). This document provides evidence-based population health advice on healthy eating and being physically active. The document is written for health practitioners and others who provide advice on nutrition and physical activity for New Zealand adults. The new guidelines bring together the eating and physical activity guidelines, outlining each statement and why it is recommended. This document also identifies the international evidence that underpins the statements and provides some information for putting the statements into practice.
            • Exercise and Cancer, Exercise & Sport Science Australia, (2019). Based on the level of evidence available, leading national and international cancer organisations recommend people with cancer adhere with evidence-based guidelines. Importantly, these guidelines specify that exercise should be individually tailored to each cancer patient based on an extensive range of factors including, but not limited to: their cancer type, stage and prognosis; treatment history, current and upcoming treatments; symptoms and side-effects of the disease and its treatment; current health status and physical abilities; and patient goals.
            • Exercise is Medicine Australia. In Australia the concept that exercise can be used as a prescriptive tool is advocated by the professional association, Exercise and Sports Science Australia (ESSA). The focus is on encouraging health care providers, regardless of their specialty, to review and assess every patient's physical activity level and needs at every consultation. Patients should be counselled about exercise regimens, and provided with an exercise prescription or referral to an accredited exercise physiologist or appropriately qualified allied health professional.
              • There are three guiding principles that Exercise is Medicine Australia advocates to the medical profession; they are intended to improve the individual health and well-being of all persons, as well as improving population health: (1) It should be recognised that physical activity and exercise are important to health and the prevention and treatment of many chronic diseases; (2) More should be done to address physical activity and exercise in health care settings; and (3) Support the referral of patients to appropriately trained allied health professionals who can deliver exercise treatment services.
              • Exercise is Medicine: fact sheets, Exercise is Medicine Australia. Exercise has a well-established role as medicine to reduce the side effects of many chronic diseases. The factsheet series helps health care providers, patients and every-day Australians understand the role of exercise in the treatment and slowing the progression of disease.

            • Motivate 2 MoveBritish Association of Sport and Exercise. The purpose of this website is to give all health professionals the tools and information they need to educate, motivate, and encourage patients to be physical activity.
            • Physical Activity and Lifestyle Toolkit, Royal College of General Practitioners and Sport England, (accessed 22 January 2020). This toolkit has been designed by the RCGPs in partnership with Sport England, to be used by primary care professionals in the UK. Any health professional concerned about their own activity levels may find the toolkit useful. The toolkit is designed to have something for all clinicians. Quickly browse our quick reference section or explore certain resources in more detail.
            • Preventive Health Matters. This web-based tool has been developed to facilitate the knowledge transfer between Medicare Locals and to harness the use of research and evidence to improve the planning, implementation and evaluation of preventive health initiatives.
            • What is Sedentary Behaviour? Sedentary Behaviour Research Network (SBRN). This organisation provides evidence for health professionals which focuses specifically on the health impact of sedentary behaviour.

            Video iconVideos

            Case studies

            Community physical activity classes (Brazil and Colombia)

            These programmes offer fitness instruction and aerobics classes at no charge to participants and often take place in public places (e.g., parks, school yards, community centres, worksites, and common sports facilities). This type of intervention has been introduced in communities in Brazil and Colombia. Programs can take several forms: instructor-led physical activity classes (e.g., aerobics, stretching, yoga, and dancing) in parks or plazas, and in community centres in neighbourhoods of low to high income; use of readily available environmental resources within communities that support physical activity behaviours; and educational and promotional materials provided to participants to achieve further behavioural and social reinforcement and connectedness to the classes within each of the intervention communities. Programmes such as these ones provide social support, are of particular importance in places with few recreational public parks, and are relevant for underserved populations (women, older adults, and individuals of low socioeconomic status) who are less likely to achieve recommended levels of physical activity. Because payment is not usually needed to participate in such programmes, these strategies could also contribute to a reduction in social and health disparities. 


            Romsås community intervention (Oslo, Norway)

            A comprehensive intervention that included organized walking groups and group sessions for indoor activity at no cost for participants during the whole intervention period. These group-based activities were expected to enhance perceived social support for physical activity through family and friends and promote physical activity identity. Furthermore, for the immigrants attending Norwegian language classes, information about physical activity and health was given, and specially designed activity groups were organized to make activities more culturally suitable and to increase the participants’ identity for physical activity.


            Active Plus intervention (Netherlands)

            Web-based vs print-based computer tailored intervention (with and without environmental strategies) targeting over 50 year olds. Intervention participants received tailored advice three times within 4 months, delivered either in print or via the web. For both delivery modes, participants received either basic tailored advice (i.e. general information about the benefits of PA especially for older adults,) or advice with an additional environmental approach (i.e. advice on local possibilities and initiatives for being physically active - e.g. walking or cycling routes in their own neighbourhood). Overall, the Active Plus intervention was effective in increasing weekly days of sufficient PA, but not for increasing weekly minutes of PA. Notably, results showed that the Print-Basic intervention and the Print-Environmental intervention were both effective in increasing days and minutes of PA whereas neither web-based conditions were effective. The authors concluded that after 12 months the print-delivered interventions resulted in stronger effects than the web-based interventions. Importantly, subgroup analysis by education level demonstrated that the intervention was equally effective amongst those with a low vs. high education.


            Perth and Kinross Healthy Communities Collaborative (Scotland)

            Perth and Kinross Healthy Communities Collaborative is a community led health promotion initiative. It works with older people from specific communities, and empowers them to improve health and quality of life for themselves and their peers. For each new area, the staff team first speaks to local people at community groups and to residents in sheltered housing lounges. People are asked to identify what is good about the area they live in, what could be improved and what is missing. This gives an insight into the issues that might need to be addressed. An event is then held in a local venue to answer questions arising from the consultation. From this event, local older people are recruited to a ‘local team’ and invited to attend a one day ‘learning workshop’. Team members identify issues and come up with ideas to try in their local communities. Each team meets approximately once a month and part of the meeting is dedicated to any intervention carried out since the last meeting. This gives team members an opportunity to evaluate the work and make any changes. Team members act as a bridge between existing services and their community. Ideas often come from team members and have included lunch clubs, gentle exercise groups, pampering events and many others. This initiative has led to a number of self-sustaining groups.


            NeighborWalk

            The Boston Public Health Commission created the NeighborWalk program by organizing 56 walking groups in 7 racially diverse neighbourhoods known for having a high prevalence of priority diseases and risk factors. The program provides an opportunity for local residents to join their neighbours in a walk of the community at least once a week for 30 minutes to 1 hour. A walk leader for each neighbourhood coordinates the activity by mapping the walking course, promoting the walk, distributing walk logs, and providing incentives to participants. A post-walk survey is completed to get feedback on the walking route, frequency of the walks, changes in physical activity, and recommendations for the future. 

            Walk groups include participants from community-based organizations, including schools, churches, senior citizen organizations, tenant’s organizations, and community health centers. The average walk group consists of 10 people who walk an average of 2.4 miles per walk. In addition to the walks, each group hosts workshops on two different health topics each year. Representatives from the Boston Public Health Commission present on the topics that have been identified as important by the walk participants According to a post-walk survey, program participants report an overall increase in their physical activity since joining NeighborWalk, including performing more moderate physical activity and walking more at work, place-to-place, and for leisure. 

            • Walking, Boston Public Health Commission, (accessed 1 April 2020)
            • NeighborWalk [video], Boston Public Health Commission Facebook page, (accessed 1 April 2020)The NeighborWalk program is a walking initiative that encourages Boston residents of all ages to be physically active, by providing support for organized walking groups throughout Boston.

            Miranos! Look at Us, We are Healthy study

            Took an environmental approach to early childhood obesity prevention, with Mexican-American children aged 3-5 years and their parents. Following a systems approach, Miranos targeted change agents at multiple levels and in multiple contexts. The study was conducted using a quasi-experimental pre-test/post-test design with two treatment groups and a comparison group. A centre-based intervention included an age-appropriate gross motor program with structured outdoor play, supplemental classroom activities, and staff development. A combined centre- and home-based intervention added peer-led parent education to create a broad supportive environment in the centre and at home. The intervention was 18-weeks long, and children in both intervention groups showed increases in outdoor PA and consumption of healthy food. 


            Active Play intervention

            With families and children from Sure Start Centres in the North West of England. Centres were randomly assigned to either an intervention or a comparison group. Parents and children in the intervention group received a 10-week active play programme delivered by trained active play professionals; this included an activity and educational component. Families in the comparison group were asked to maintain their usual routine. Significant intervention effects were observed for sedentary time and PA for both week and weekend days. Children in the intervention group engaged in 1.5% and 4.3% less sedentary time during week and weekend days, respectively and 4.5% and 13.1% more PA during week and weekend days, respectively than children in the comparison group.


            Supplemented fitness activities and fitness in Urban Elementary school classrooms in the USA

            This was a 15-week intervention program that was in addition to the usual schedule of PE. The fitness intervention consisted of 5 minutes of warm-up activities and stretching, followed by 20 minutes of continuous aerobic activity. The sessions concluded with a 5–10-minute cool-down period, during which the medical student teams presented educational material about nutrition, exercise, and disease prevention. Significant improvements were shown in low-back and hamstring flexibility, body composition, and the heart-rate response to a submaximal exercise challenge. These results indicate that an activity program based within the classroom is capable of improving the level of fitness in urban school children without the use of additional physical education programming or equipment.


            Bienestar school-based diabetes mellitus prevention program

            Involved elementary schools (94% were economically disadvantaged). The Bienestar Health Program consisted of a health class and PE curriculum, a family program, a school cafeteria program, and an after-school health club. Bienestar HPE class (includes teacher’s health & PE manuals, student’s workbook) – health curriculum 13 lessons cover PA, PE promoting an active lifestyle through 32 different physical activities. Fitness scores and dietary fibre intake significantly increased in intervention and decreased in control children.


            Family and Consumer Education (FACE)

            Stage-based interventions for low-fat diets with middle school students. Low-income, culturally diverse students received four classroom interventions to control fat in diet and increase PA. A control group received the usual classroom education. Peer leadership for large group snack session and peers lead 5 exercise stations. Duration of exercise was significantly higher for the intervention group than the control group after the intervention. The exercise session with peer-led, physical activity lab was effective in increasing moderate and vigorous activity.


            The ATLAS cluster RCT (NSW, Australia)

              Sustained impact of a school-based obesity prevention program for adolescent boys, ATLAS = Active Teen Leaders Avoiding Screen-time. Sustained effects were found for screen-time, resistance training skill competency, and motivational regulations for school sport.


              Cafe K Fit and Fruitful Project (Scotland)

              This project was part of the larger Girls on the Move initiative designed to increase physical activity levels among girls and young women through leadership programs in Scotland. The project, based at the Jack Kane Community Centre in Edinburgh, aimed to introduce and provide 'new' physical activities (e.g., self-defence, dance, pulse centre, rugby, aerobics, fitness balls) for a group of young females 13-20 years of age who were currently viewed as ‘inactive’ and at risk of social exclusion. This was complemented with educational sessions based upon health and self-esteem (e.g., aromatherapy, healthy cooking, group work games) and supported by partner agencies. As the group developed, the young females produced their own DVD on their experience to promote healthy lifestyles/activities to other young females. Feedback from participants emphasized how much they enjoyed the experience. In addition, six of the group members were keen to progress to achieving Dynamic Youth Awards. This was especially significant as those young females were all either lone parents and/or young females whom have been excluded from school and this was therefore for many of them the only recognised qualification they gained on the corresponding academic year.

              Evaluation of a 1-year Walking School Bus (WSB) program

              In a low-income urban community in the USA. They conducted a controlled, quasi experimental trial with one intervention and two control schools (elementary). The intervention was a WSB program consisting of a part-time WSB coordinator and parent volunteers, In addition to establishing WSB routes and recruiting adult volunteers and students, the coordinator implemented school-wide activities and distributed materials on walking to school and pedestrian safety. At 1-month, 6-month and 12-month follow up higher proportions of students walked to school at the intervention school versus control schools. 


              Way2Go (Australia)

              A statewide South Australian program promoting safer, greener and more active travel for primary school students and their communities. It uses a whole school approach built on a partnership between local councils, school communities and the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI). 

              Way2Go encourages children and the community to safely walk, ride bikes or scooters, and use public transport for personal travel. The program supports students to be safe walkers, bike riders and passengers and promotes the development of safe, people friendly local streets near schools to support independent personal travel. Way2Go is creating change in school community travel modes through a problem solving approach based on current Travel Behaviour Change methodology. The program supports school road safety education practices that are embedded within the regular curriculum and reflect the nationally supported Principles for School Road Safety Education and the National Practices for Early Childhood Road Safety Education.

              Local councils partner with DPTI and school communities to identify, plan and implement people focused, safe and innovative improvements in local streets near schools to support active travel. School communities establish partnerships at different levels depending on their capacity as described in the Way2Go model.

              • Way2Go [website], (accessed 1 April 2020). 


              Ciclovía recreativa (Bogota, Colombia)

              One of the more successful transformations of the urban environment and transportation policy to promote active living originated in Bogotá, Colombia. Bogotá is home to the world's largest Ciclovía Recreativa, a free community-based program in which streets are closed temporarily to motorised transport, allowing exclusive access to walkers, runners, rollerbladers and cyclists, for recreation, sports or transport.

              The program began in the early 1970s with an event called Ciclovía (bike-way), which closed several major streets and allowed families to walk and cycle around without cars. This event is now a permanent part of city life of Bogota, with weekly street closures on Sundays from 7 am to 2 pm. Currently, Ciclovía involves a circuit of 121 kilometres of main avenues, which are closed every Sunday and holiday (72 events per year, from 7 am to 2 pm). Estimates suggest that there are 600,000 to 1,400,000 participants each Sunday and around 2 million people using it every week.

              In addition to the car-free streets, other transport and urban design policy implemented included the reclaiming of public space (e.g., converting parking spaces to attractive public open space); improving public transport; promoting active transport and implementing vehicle restriction measures. Streets were improved with trees, benches, improved lighting and links to communities. Factors leading to the initiative’s success include political will, public support, financial resources and capacity to transform public spaces. The model has now served as an inspiration for many other cities around the world, with estimates that similar programs are reported in 1500 cities. 


              Shape Up Somerville (Massachusetts, USA)

              A multicomponent intervention conducted in three culturally-diverse, urban cities with changes to the built environment including: traffic calming measures to and from the school environment; advocacy to paint crosswalks; installation of pedestrian crossing signs; opening and renovation of parks, and; provision of bike racks. Parent-reported data indicated that children were more likely to participate in organised sports and physical activities at the two year follow-up time-point. Student self-report data at the four year follow-up suggested that high-school students were more likely to meet PA recommendation after adjusting for demographic, health, and behavioural variables. 


              Parks intervention (Los Angeles, USA)

              An intervention to encourage use of and PA in neighbourhood parks. Fifty neighbourhood park/recreation centers serving diverse populations participated were randomly allocated to one of three groups: 1) Park Directors (PDs) only; 2) Park Directors and Park Advisory Boards (PD-PABs); or 3) control group (measurement only). Park Directors received five training sessions from a marketing consultant regarding outreach, customer service, promotion events, improving park image and building the customer base. Additionally, the intervention groups utilised baseline data collected about park use and park users to inform decisions regarding development of park programs to increase park use and PA. Each park received $4000 to spend on park programs which included signage (e.g., banners, walking path signs), promotional incentives (e.g., water bottles, park-branded key chains, individually targeted emails), and outreach activities (e.g., hiring additional instructors, buying activity materials). Results showed a significant increase in PA and number of park users for both intervention arms, generating 600 more visits/week/park and 1830 more MET-hours of PA/week/park. The most significant factor influencing behaviour change was investment in signage which explained 37% of change in park users and 39% increase in MET-hours. 

              International practice

              Global Observatory for Physical Activity (GoPA)

              The Global Observatory for Physical Activity (GoPA) was launched in 2014 to provide information related to physical (in)activity as a public health issue. The main resource provided are standardised country cards, based on common indicators and sources. The cards allow cross-country comparisons and provide data for countries to initiate or improve standards, policies, program development, and evaluation.   

              • Indicators include: general country information (i.e. population size, life expectancy, literacy, socioeconomic indicators); physical activity prevalence; estimated physical inactivity health burden and related mortality; national physical activity plan; physical activity surveillance; and research in physical activity.  There were 217 Country Cards available in 2016 with more planned. 
              • Australia was ranked 2nd for physical activity research worldwide, contributing 8.46% to physical activity research worldwide [Australian Country CardGlobal Observatory for Physical Activity, (2013)]. The United States was ranked 1st, contributing 25.31%. The Country card also highlighted that Australia did not currently have a national physical activity plan, although it does have a national survey; that less than 50% of people over the age of 15 years met physical activity guidelines (42% of females and 45% of males); and that Australia was slightly above the world average for 'deaths related to physical inactivity' with 10.1% in Australia, and 9% average worldwide.
              • More information, and other Country Cards, are available from the GoPA website 

              World Health Organisation (WHO) 

              Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030: more active people for a healthier world (PDF  - 1.5 MB), World Health Organisation, (2018). WHO has developed a new global action plan to help countries scale up policy actions to promote physical activity. It responds to the requests by countries for updated guidance, and a framework of effective and feasible policy actions to increase physical activity at all levels. The plan sets out four objectives (create active societies, active environments, active people and active systems) and recommends 20 evidence-based policy actions that are applicable to all countries and address the cultural, environmental and individual determinants of inactivity.

              Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health (PDF  - 1.8 MB), World Health Organisation, (2010). Physical inactivity is now identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. The recommendations set out in this document address three age groups: 5–17 years old; 18–64 years old; and 65 years old and above.

              Health-enhancing physical activity policy audit tool (PDF  - 74 KB), Bull F, Milton K and Kahlmeier S, World Health Organisation, (2011). The promotion of physical activity across the life course requires a multi-faceted response across many sectors. This document provides a protocol and method for a detailed compilation and communication of country level policy responses on physical inactivity. It is structured around a set of 17 key attributes identified as essential for successful implementation of a population-wide approach to the promotion of physical activity across the life course.

              Jakarta Statement on Active Living (1997). The World Health Organisation (WHO) held its 4th International Conference on Health Promotion (Jakarta, Indonesia, July 1997) and considered ten priority health promotion areas. The Conference statement responded to these issues and challenges and contains several statements regarding the need for health promotion programs: (1) scientific evidence shows that daily moderate activity enhances health in its broadest sense; (2) sedentary lifestyles make it increasingly difficult for people to remain physically active; (3) experiences suggest three pathways for successful intervention programs – (i) sound policy that supports action, (ii) program evaluation, and (iii) effective advocacy; (4) a review of effective programs identifies these common themes – (i) the possibility of immediate results, (ii) action that is taken locally, (iii) programs targeting children and youth, (iv) realisation that interventions should be simple, and (v) documentation of results to determine transfer of experiences.

              Let’s be active for health for allWorld Health Organisation/YouTube, (3 June 2018). The Let’s be active campaign is promoting the advice of the WHO Global action plan on physical activity, which was endorsed at the World Health Assembly in 2018.

              WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health (PDF  - 1.7 MB), World Health Organisation, (2004). Governments have a central role in creating an environment that empowers and encourages physical activity by individuals and communities. This strategy document was developed through a wide-ranging series of consultations with all concerned stakeholders in response to a request from Member States. 


              Research iconResearch

              • An international perspective on the nexus of physical activity research and policy, Pratt M, Salvo D, Cavill N, Giles-Corti B, McCue P, Reis R, Jauregui A and Foster C, Environment and Behavior, Volume 48(1), (2016). The process of translating research to policy is influenced by a complex interplay of factors. The authors contend that physical activity is the “best buy” in public health; yet widespread application of this evidence occurs infrequently, from an international perspective. Evidence on how to increase physical activity at the community level has mounted steadily over the past decades and many reports and papers conclude with calls for better translation of research into policy and practice. There are good examples of research guiding physical activity policy and practice, but more often public policy that influences physical activity is driven from outside a public health rationale. Policy decisions tend to be made independent of research and often use different data sets. Active living research may not always resonate with policy makers, but this does not suggest that research has no role in guiding public policy. Compounding the research-policy nexus is a lack of international consensus on which interventions are most effective. This report offers case studies from four countries – United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil and Mexico to illustrating the research-policy relationship. The authors conclude that in Australia the translation of research to policy has been facilitated by explicitly brokering the relationship across several sectors (e.g. health, sport/recreation, education, community development, etc.). As a result of this process there are many good examples in Australia of research findings systematically being incorporated into national, state, and local policy.
              • The Copenhagen Consensus Conference 2016: children, youth, and physical activity in schools and during leisure time, Bangsbo J, Krustrup P, Duda J, et.al., British Journal of Sports Medicine, (published online 27 June 2016). This evidence-based consensus statement was prepared by 24 researchers from 8 countries, representing a variety of academic disciplines. Physical activity is an overarching term that consists of many structured and unstructured forms within school and out-of-school-time contexts, including organised school sport, physical education, outdoor recreation, motor skill development programs, active play during recess, and active transportation such as biking and walking to/from school. This consensus statement represents accord on the effects of physical activity on children's and youth's fitness, health, cognitive functioning, engagement, motivation, psychological wellbeing and social inclusion. There are 21 items of consensus grouped into four thematic areas that identify educational and physical activity implementation strategies.

              EU Physical Activity Guidelines: recommended policy actions in support of health-enhancing physical activity (PDF  - 213 KB), EU Working Group ‘Sport and Health’, (2008). School-aged youth should participate in 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily, in forms that are developmentally appropriate, enjoyable, and involve a variety of activities. The full dose can be accumulated in bouts of at least 10 minutes. Development of motor skills should be emphasised in early age groups. Specific types of activity according to the needs of the age group should be addressed: aerobic, strength, weight bearing, balance, flexibility, motor development. For healthy adults aged 18 to 65 years, the goal recommended by the WHO is to achieve a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity 5 days a week or at least 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity 3 days a week. For adults aged over 65, in principle the same goals as for healthy younger adults should be achieved. In addition, strength training and balance exercises to prevent falls are of particular importance in this age group.

              National physical activity recommendations: systematic overview and analysis of the situation in European countries (PDF  - 427 KB), Kahlmeier S, Wijnhoven T, Alpiger P, Schweizer C, Breda J and Martin B, BMC Public Health, (12 February 2015). Developing national physical activity guidelines and recommendations provide a benchmark for the implementation and assessment of programs that promote physical activity (PA). A systematic review was conducted of the national PA recommendations across 37 of the 53 countries within the European Region. Only 40% of the countries have developed recommendations/guidelines for PA, a necessary first step towards comprehensive PA promotional strategies. In addition, only a few countries have addressed the influences of sedentary behaviours in their recommendations.

              Sport and physical activity: Special Eurobarometer 472 report, European Union, (2017). Survey requested by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture and co-ordinated by the Directorate-General for Communication. This report presents the results of the Special Eurobarometer public opinion survey on sport and physical activity in the 28 EU Member States. This follows three previous Eurobarometer surveys on sport and physical activity, conducted in 2002, 2009 and 2013. Main findings include: 

              • Nearly half of Europeans never exercise or play sport, and the proportion has increased gradually in recent years. 
              • Overall, in the EU, men exercise, play sport or engage in other physical activity more than women. This disparity is particularly marked in the 15-24 age group, with young men tending to exercise or play sport on a regular basis considerably more than young women. The amount of regular activity that people do tends to decrease with age. Engagement in sport and physical activity is also less prevalent among people with lower levels of education and among those with financial difficulties. 
              • In a given week, more than half of Europeans do not do any vigorous physical activity, and around half do not engage in moderate physical activity. 
              • 15% of Europeans do not walk for 10 minutes at a time at all in a weekly period, while 12% sit for more than 8.5 hours per day. 
              • Formal sport settings are less popular than informal settings such as parks or outdoors, the home or the journey between home and work or school. 
              • The most common reasons for engaging in sport or physical activity are to improve health (54%) and to improve fitness (47%). Other popular reasons include relaxing (38%), having fun (30%) and improving physical performance (28%).  
              • A lack of time is by far the main reason given for not practising sport more regularly (40%). Other factors mentioned are a lack of motivation or interest (20%) and having a disability or illness (14%). 
              • Most Europeans think that there are opportunities available locally to be physically active, but many do not think their local authority does enough. 
              • Overall, 6% of EU citizens say that they engage in voluntary work that supports sport activities. People who volunteer in sport do a range of different activities, most commonly organising or helping to run a sporting event (33%), followed by coaching or training (27%). 

              Physical Activity Guidelines

              Physical activity guidelines: UK Chief Medical Officers' reportDepartment of Health and Social Care, (7 September 2019). A report from the Chief Medical Officers in the UK on the amount and type of physical activity people should be doing to improve their health. The report contains guidance for health professionals, policymakers and others working to promote physical activity, sport and exercise for health benefits. 


              Active Lives Adult Survey

              Active Lives Adult Survey: November 18/19 ReportSport England, (April 2020). Conducted in the 12 months to November 2019, the figures show 28.6 million adults were active – i.e. doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week. This accounts for 63.3% of the nation’s population and is up 404,600 people on the previous 12 months. The results also show there were 159,500 fewer inactive people – those not doing at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week – than the previous 12 months. Also, for the first time the report shows information relating to people’s perceived loneliness and its link to physical activity, with those both volunteering and playing sport being less likely to feel lonely and reporting higher levels of happiness. Results also show a drop in the activity levels of people aged 16-34, with those classed as active falling by 265,100, or 1.7%, compared to the previous 12 months – correspondingly, inactivity in the same group has increased by 176,600 (1.4%). These figures are a particular worry when combined with others that show 16-24-year-olds as the age group most likely to say they always feel lonely.

              Active Lives Adult Survey: May 18/19 Report, Sport England, (October 2019). Covering the 12 months from May 2018 to May 2019, this report provides an update on the sporting and physical activity behaviours of adults in England. It also highlights the contribution made by volunteers, and the impact of taking part in sport and physical activity on wider outcomes such as mental wellbeing and community development. The latest increase of more than 500,000 takes us to 28.6 million regularly active adults, the highest activity levels ever recorded. Conversely, a reduction of 122,000 means that inactivity amongst adults in England is also at the lowest level ever. These results also reveal that previous increases have been retained, the gender gap continues to narrow and there is growth in the activity levels of disabled adults and those with a long term health condition. There is also a positive association between taking part in sport and physical activity and mental wellbeing, as well as individual, social and community development

              Active Lives Adult Survey: understanding behaviour, Sport England, (February 2019). This work delves under the surface of why different people engage with sport and physical activity in different ways, and ultimately why some are more likely to be active than others. The study found that the majority of people say they enjoy sport and physical activity and that it is important to be active but 32% (5.5million people) who were not currently physically active indicated that they don't feel they have the ability to be physically active. This appears to be a significant factor in whether or not people enjoy sport and physical activity, which in turn, is the biggest driver of participation. Based on this research Sport England is in the process of developing a physical activity market segmentation of the adult population of England. 


              Active Lives Children Survey 

              Active Lives: Children & Young People Survey - Academic year 2018/19Sport England, (December 2019). This report presents data from the Active Lives Children and Young People Survey for the academic year 2018/19. Data is presented for children and young people in school Years 1-11 (ages 5-16) in England. The data shows that 46.8% of children and young people (3.3 million) are meeting the new Chief Medical Officer guidelines of taking part in sport and physical activity for an average of 60 minutes or more every day. Meanwhile 29.0% (2.1m) do less than an average of 30 minutes a day. The proportion of children and young people reporting they were active has increased by 3.6% over the past 12 months (an increase of 279,600 active children and young people in England). Boys (51%) are more likely to be active than girls (43%), however, both boys and girls have seen an increase in activity levels over the last 12 months. The gap between boys and girls who are active is fairly consistent across school years. Conversely, girls (30%) are more likely to be less active than boys (27%). The report also highlights that there is a positive association between levels of engagement in sport and physical activity and levels of mental wellbeing; individual development; and community development.   

              Active Lives: Children & Young People Survey - Attitudes towards sport and physical activitySport England, (March 2019). This new analysis has identified five key findings that give us further insight into the attitudes of children and young people towards sport and physical activity. The key findings are: Physically literate children do twice as much activity. The more of the five elements of physical literacy - enjoyment, confidence, competence, understanding and knowledge - children have, the more active they are. Enjoyment is the biggest driver of activity levels. Despite the majority of children (68%) understanding that sport and activity is good for them, understanding had the least impact on activity levels. Children who have all five elements of physically literacy report higher levels of happiness, are more trusting of other children, and report higher levels of resilience (continuing to try if you find something difficult). Physical literacy decreases with age. As children grow older, they report lower levels of enjoyment, confidence, competence, and understanding. Previous research from Sport England shows that activity levels drop when children reach their teenage years. Additionally there are inequalities between certain groups of children: Girls are less likely to say they enjoy or feel confident about doing sport and physical activity. (58% of boys enjoy it, compared to 43% of girls. 47% of boys feel confident, compared to 31% of girls.) Among children aged 5-7, boys are more likely to love playing sport, while girls are more likely to love being active. Children from the least affluent families are less likely to enjoy activity than those from the most affluent families, and previous research shows they are also far less likely to be active. Black children are more physically literate than other ethnic groups – driven by boys, but they're less active than the population as a whole.


              Strategic Plans

              A more active Scotland: Scotland's Physical Activity Delivery Plan (PDF  - 1.1 MB), Scottish Government, (June 2018). The Active Scotland Outcomes Framework sets out the shared vision and goals which have shaped the approach the Scottish Government and a wide range of partner organisations have taken to supporting and enabling people in Scotland to be more physically active. The identified actions and outcomes align with the WHO Global Action Plan.  

              Sport for Life: A vision for sport in Scotland, Sport Scotland, (April 2019). The new corporate strategy launched by sportscotland, outlines our vision, mission and assets and the approach we take.

              Sporting Future: A new strategy for an active nation (PDF  - 1.2 MB), Ministry for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, United Kingdom, (December 2015). At the heart of the Government’s strategy are five simple, but fundamental outcomes of participation in sport and physical activity: (1) physical health; (2) mental health; (3) individual development; (4) social and community development; and (5) economic development. It is these outcome that will define how governments (federal and local) prioritise and fund programs.


              National Child Measurement Programme, England 2018/19 School Year, NHS Digital, (10 October 2019). This report presents findings from the Government's National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) for England, 2018-19 school year. It covers children in Reception (aged 4-5 years) and Year 6 (aged 10-11 years) in mainstream state-maintained schools in England. The report contains analyses of Body Mass Index (BMI) classification rates by age, sex and ethnicity as well as geographic analyses. Some key facts include: in Reception obesity prevalence increased to 9.7% in 2018/19 from 9.5% in 2017/18. Year 6 obesity prevalence remained similar. Obecity prevalence was higher for boys than girls in both age groups (10% of boys in reception were obese compared to 9.4% of girls and 22.5% ob boys in year 6 were obese compared to 17.8% of girls). Obesity prevalence for children living in the most deprived areas was more than double that of those living in the least deprived areas for both age groups. 

              Start Active, Stay Active: a report on physical activity from the four home countries' Chief Medical Officers (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales) (PDF  - 1.3 MB), Department of Health, Physical Activity, Health Improvement and Protection, (2011). Presents guidelines on the volume, duration, frequency, and type of physical activity required across the life-course to achieve general health benefits. The report is intended for professionals, practitioners, and policymakers concerned with formulating and implementing policies and programs that utilise the promotion of physical activity, sport, exercise, and active travel to achieve health gains.

              Steps to solving inactivity (PDF  - 2.8 MB), UK Active, (2014). Official government data shows that 29 per cent of people in England are classed as physically inactive, failing to achieve 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week. This report provides an evidence base on the link between physical inactivity and long-term health issues. It offers practical guidance on how to best prove the benefits of physical activity programs, so that successful programs can be continued and scaled up. A total of 952 physical activity programs receive some level of government funding in the United Kingdom; delivered through schools, workplaces, community groups, outdoor settings, and primary care venues. These programs reach 3.5 mission people annually. Recommendations made in this report include: (1) improve the collection, coordination and analysis of data through a single UK-wide framework; (2) increase investment into research on physical inactivity interventions in a number of settings; (3) establish a UK-wide framework that sets benchmarks across the physical activity sector; (4) encourage local government authorities to prioritise physical inactivity interventions as a public health issue; (5) integrate physical activity programs into planning across public health, social care, education, environmental and transport policies; and (6) encourage all local Health and Wellbeing Boards to have a ‘physical activity champion’ who can coordinate and integrate programs across government portfolios.

              Value of Sport Monitor. Sport England provides a review of evidence regarding the value of sport. Besides commissioning its own research on the value of sport, Sport England also works with other organisations  to collect and review data from across the world.

              Value of SwimmingSwim England, (November 2019). As the national governing body for swimming, water polo, diving and synchronised swimming in England, Swim England commissioned this research to build a robust evidence base around the specific benefits of water-based activity. The findings show how swimming can positively contribute to physical and mental wellbeing, to individual and community development, and help to reduce the burden to the health and social care system. Some of the key benefits suggested by this report include that swimming is already reducing health and social care costs by up to £357million a year. This includes estimated savings from dementia, strokes, diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer, depression, and reduced GP and psychotherapy visits by those who swim regularly. Additionally, across the different datasets analysed, a positive association was seen between swimming and: social connectedness; trust (in general and of neighbours); community cohesion; volunteering; percieved ability to achieve goals; life satisfaction; and, health and mental health. 

              Physical Activity Guidelines 

              Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (2nd edition), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (2018). This second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provides science-based guidance to help people ages 3 years and older improve their health through participation in regular physical activity. It reflects the extensive amount of new knowledge gained since the publication of the first Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, released in 2008. This edition of the Guidelines discusses the proven benefits of physical activity and outlines the amounts and types of physical activity recommended for different ages and populations.

              2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee: Scientific Report, 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (February 2018). The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee submitted its Scientific Report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services in February 2018. The report summarizes the scientific evidence on physical activity and health, and will be used by the government to develop the second edition of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. This report provides a comprehensive review of the various benefits that can be attributed to physical activity including physical and mental benefits for all ages. The report also highlights that any increase in physical activity is beneficial, even for people who are not currently meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines. 


              Strategic Plans 

              Healthy People 2020, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, (2010). This is an initiative of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Healthy People provides a science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. Benchmarks and monitored progress over time is provided to: (1) encourage collaborations across communities and sectors; (2) empower individuals to make informed health decisions; and (3) measure the impact of prevention activities. The physical activity objectives for Healthy People 2020 reflect the strong state of the science supporting the health benefits of regular physical activity among youth and adults. Regular physical activity includes participation in moderate and vigorous physical activities and muscle-strengthening activities.

              National Physical Activity Plan 2016 (PDF  - 9.6 MB). The 2016 Plan builds on the first U.S. National Physical Activity Plan, which was released in 2010. It is a collaboration of nine sectors: business and industry; community recreation; fitness and parks; education; faith-based settings; media; public health; sport; and transportation. The Plan is grounded in a socio-ecological model of health behaviour. This model holds that physical activity behaviour is influenced by a broad constellation of factors operating at the personal, family, institutional, community and policy levels. Sustainable behaviour change is most likely when influences at all the levels are aligned to support change. The Plan includes recommendations for actions at the national, state, local and institutional levels, but fundamentally it is a roadmap for change at the community level that facilitates personal behaviour change. 

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