Physical Activity Guidelines

Physical Activity Guidelines        
Prepared by  Prepared by: Dr Ralph Richards and Christine May, Senior Research Consultants, Clearinghouse for Sport, Australian Sports Commission
Reviewed by  Reviewed by network: Australian Sport Information Network (AUSPIN)
Last updated  Last updated: 19 September 2017
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Physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor globally for mortality.

  • The cost of physical inactivity, Medibank Private (2008). This is the second report by Medibank Private and KPMG-Econtech investigating the economic costs of physical inactivity. This report considers the costs to employers, individuals and the economy more broadly from reduced productivity, chronic illness and premature mortality. The total economic cost of physical inactivity to the Australian economy is estimated to be $13.8 billion. This takes into account direct healthcare costs for non-communicable diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle; offset by expenses associated with participation in physical activity including sports injuries and fitness-related expenses. It is estimated that in 2007/08, physical inactivity caused GDP to be around $9.3 billion lower than would otherwise be the case.

Governments have a central role, in cooperation with many other stakeholders, in creating an environment that empowers and encourages physical activity behaviour by individuals, families, and communities. Being physically active can have many positive personal health benefits (both physiological and psychological) as well as social and community benefits. 

Key Messages 


Governments have a central role in providing evidence-based guidelines for health and lifestyle enhancing physical activity across all age-groups.


Governments and stakeholders can use physical activity guidelines to shape policy and implement relevant strategies.


The total economic cost of physical inactivity to the Australian economy is substantial, it consists of increased health care costs, lost productivity, and premature mortality.


The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a global strategy on physical activity, advocating a mixture of 'top-down' and community-based actions.

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