2019 Australian Sporting Participation Snapshot

Australia is a nation defined by active lifestyles and sporting endeavours, with our love for physical pursuits spanning all ages and demographics. Thankfully for brands in the sector, Sport Aus has recently released their national participation data to shed light on the most popular forms of sporting and non-sporting activities across key demographic groups. The AusPlay Report, based on a population-tracking survey conducted by the Australian Sports Commision, is the largest of its kind with over 20,000 people contributing to the research. The participation estimates compare statistics across the 2016/2017/2018 calendar years, providing insights into where Australians are spending their active time and sporting goods dollars. In order to give our members a deeper understanding of the evolving trends in physical participation, we’ve summarised the top-line takeaways of the report below.

ADULTS (15+)

As the results indicate, the top 5 physical activities participated in by Australian adults are; walking (43.7%), Gym (32.7%), swimming (14.7%), jogging (15.7%) and cycling (11.8%). Continuing the historical trend, recreational walking remains the most popular practice for maintaining fitness, with over 9.1 million Australians throwing on their runners and undertaking vigorous strolls as their primary form of exercise. There also appears to be significant growth in the attendance of adults to gyms, health clubs  and fitness classes, rising from approximately 6.5 million in 2016 to 7.1 million participants in 2018.

It’s also worth noting that all of the top 5 are primarily undertaken individually, indicating a broad preference of Australian adults for solo participation, as opposed to team sports. A slight decrease is apparent in the participation rates for Soccer (-0.9%), Netball (-0.5%) and Cricket (-0.3%) over the 3-year period, however the data also indicated an increase of around 85,000 people – aged 15 and over – taking part in Australian Rules Football (+0.4%).


According the the AusPlay Report, the most popular organised activity for children  – outside of school hours – is Swimming. Increasing by more than 4% since 2016, over one third of all Australian children are now reported to hit the pool on a regular basis (34.5%). The specific Swimming statistics (here), also included as part of the broader Ausplay research, made note that the participation rates for children’s organised out-of-school Swimming peaked between the ages of 5-8 and participation decreased significantly with those aged 12-14.

Making up the rest of the Top 5 activities for Australian children are Soccer (14.6%), Dancing (10.1%), Gymnastics (10.1%) and Australian Rules Football (8.15%). The data also highlighted the important distinction between genders with regard to activity preference, with boys more likely to play overtly team sports (Soccer, AFL, Cricket and Basketball) and girls more likely to participate in less team-oriented endeavours (Dancing and Gymnastics).

The findings of the report reflect Australia’s identity as a great sporting nation, and the continued growth in overall participation rates is a positive sign for our thriving sports industry. ASGA is proud to play a role in promoting participation in a diverse range of physical activities and their broad benefits for all active Australians, and we thank the ASC for their invaluable study of the sector.

To learn more about 2019 AusPlay Research, please follow the links below :




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