At a glance
- 2.1 million (56.6%) Queensland adults were sufficiently active.
- 440,000 (12.1%) Queensland adults were inactive.
- 410,000 (46.3%) Queensland children were sufficiently active.
Physical activity (PA) is any bodily movement using large muscle groups produced by expending energy. It can be incidental PA, such as gardening or walking as part of a commute, or purposive PA, such as running or cycling for exercise or sport. Strengthening activities are also important for our health, especially as we age. Regular physical activity has many benefits that include preventing and treating chronic conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and breast and colon cancer. Regular physical activity also helps to prevent the development of other risk factors, such as hypertension, and overweight and obesity, as well as improve mental health and wellbeing.1 Serious chronic health impacts of physical inactivity include coronary heart disease, dementia, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.2 Sitting or lying down too long can also have negative effects on our cardiovascular health, independent of how much activity we do.3,4
According to be most recently available information for Australia:
- In 2018, insufficient physical activity accounted for 2.5% of the total burden of disease (DALY).2
- Physical inactivity was estimated to cost the Australian healthcare system between $681 million to $850 million per year (in 2016–17 dollars), while the annual costs from loss of productivity due to physical inactivity ranged from $0.18 billion to $15.6 billion.5
In 2021, more than half of Queensland adults (56.6%) were sufficiently physically active, according to the 2004 guidelines which recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity PA over five or more sessions weekly.
Sufficiently active adults were more likely to be:
Adult Queenslanders living in the most socioeconomically advantaged areas were more likely to have been sufficiently active in the past week than those living in the most disadvantaged areas (63.8% compared to 47.0%).
Figure 1: Physical activity levels of Queensland adults, 2021
Children and youth
In 2022, less than half (46.3%) of Queensland children 5 to 17 years were physically active for at least one hour every day as recommended.
Children meeting the guideline for sufficient physical activity were more likely to be:
- living in a more remote area.
Primary school-age children were almost twice as likely as older children to be active for at least one hour a day (59.3% compared with 30.6%).
Figure 2: Physical activity levels of Queensland children, 2022
The percentage of adults meeting the guidelines for sufficient physical activity increased by 28.1% from 2004 to 2012. In the past ten years, however, the percentage of adult Queenslanders that have met the guideline for sufficient physical activity has not changed significantly.
There was a significant increase of 15.6% from 2011 to 2022 in the percentage of Queensland children meeting or exceeding the recommended amount of physical activity.
Figure 3: Trends in physical activity levels in Queensland
In 2017–18, 58.5% of Queensland adults engaged in sufficient physical activity as specified in the 2004 guidelines. The Queensland prevalence of sufficient physical activity was similar to the national prevalence (58.5% versus 61.4%). When strength and toning are included, 15.6% of adult Queenslanders met the guidelines for physical activity which was similar to the national prevalence of 17.3%.6
Data and statistics
Summary results from the Queensland preventive health survey (QPHS) for Hospital and Health Services and other regions can be found within this report and more detailed and historical results can be accessed at Preventive health surveys.
Strategies and information
For physical activity guidelines and strategies see:
- The Department of Health and Aged Care Physical activity and exercise guidelines for all Australians
- Cancer Council Queensland Physical activity.
Section technical notes
Where presented, ratios were calculated using higher precision estimates than in text. Ratios calculated using estimates in text may differ.
Data for this section were sourced from:
- the Queensland preventive health survey (QPHS) (See Preventive health surveys for further information)
- the Australian Secondary School Alcohol and Drugs Survey (ASSAD) (See Australian secondary school students alcohol and drug survey for further information)
- the Productivity Commission’s annual Report on Government Services (See Report on Government Services for further information).
At the time of publication, national comparisons more recent than 2017–18 were not available due to a COVID-related delay in the conduct of the ABS’s National Health Survey (NHS) and the manner by which the data was collected. Further details can be found at National Health Survey: First Results methodology.
This section includes multiple indicators including those based on the Australian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Adults (18 to 64 years).7 Several sources of information are used, with differences in how physical activity is collected and defined. In the NHS, sufficient activity is reported based on total minutes of activity while the Queensland preventive health survey uses both minutes (at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity weekly) and sessions (five or more weekly).
For children, more holistic 24-hour movement guidelines based on physical activity, low levels of sedentary behaviour and sufficient sleep were released in 2019.7,8 Currently, there is no consensus on the best way to report against these guidelines in general health surveys; therefore, this section measures children’s physical activity as achieving at least one hour of physical activity daily.
- World Health Organization. 2018. Global action plan on physical activity 2018–2030: more active people for a healthier world. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2021. Australian burden of disease study: impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2018. Australian burden of disease study series no. 23. cat. no. BOD 29. Canberra: AIHW. doi: 10.25816/5PS1-J259.
- Dunstan D.W., Dogra S., Carter S.E. & Owen N. 2021. Sit less and move more for cardiovascular health: emerging insights and opportunities. Nature Reviews Cardiology. 18(9): 637–648. doi: 10.1038/s41569-021-00547-y
- Jingjie W., Yang L., Jing Y., Ran L., Yiqing X. & Zhou N. 2022. Sedentary time and its association with risk of cardiovascular diseases in adults: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. BMC Public Health. 22(1): 286. doi: 10.1186/s12889-022-12728-6
- Crosland P., Ananthapavan J., Davison J., Lambert M. & Carter R. 2019. The economic cost of preventable disease in Australia: a systematic review of estimates and methods. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 43(5): 484–495. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12925.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2018. National health survey: first results, 2017-18. Accessed: 1 February 2023.
- Department of Health. 2021. Physical activity and exercise guidelines for all Australians. Accessed: 14 September 2022.
- Okely A.D., Ghersi D., Hesketh K.D., Santos R., Loughran S.P., Cliff D.P. & et al. 2017. A collaborative approach to adopting/adapting guidelines-the Australian 24-hour movement guidelines for the early years (birth to 5 years): an integration of physical activity, sedentary behavior, and sleep. BMC Public Health. 17(5): 869. doi: 10.1186/s12889-017-4867-6.