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The contribution of organised sports to physical activity in Australia: Results and directions from the Active Healthy Kids Australia 2014 Report Card on physical activity for children and young people

      Abstract

      Youth participation in organised sport and physical activity is important for healthy development, growth and wellbeing. In 2014, Active Healthy Kids Australia released its inaugural Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Young People, which synthesised the best available national- and state-level data for children and young people (<18 years). This paper provides a more detailed examination of the evidence informing the grade for Organised Sport from the 2014 Report Card, compares Australia's Organised Sport grade with other countries, identifies future directions for research and surveillance, and explores possible beneficial strategies. The Report Card highlighted that between 64% and 85% of Australians aged 5–17 years participate in organised sports, a rate higher than alternate forms of physical activity such as active transportation, active play and school based physical activity. This finding reflects Australia's position as one of the global leaders for participating in organised sport. Future research and surveillance methodologies however, need to incorporate standardised metrics that aim to capture more detailed data regarding organised sport participation. Facilitating access for all children and preventing dropout from organised sports are important initiatives to improve current levels of sport participation. However, given that 80% of Australians aged 5–17 years are not sufficiently physically active to achieve the daily recommendation, participation in sport alone is not enough to ensure that children can accrue the health benefits associated with being physically active. As such, there is a pressing need to develop strategies that engage children in other forms of physical activity such as active transportation and active play.

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