Correlates of physical activity among Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous adolescents

Rona Macniven*, Shane Hearn, Anne Grunseit, Justin Richards, Don Nutbeam, Adrian Bauman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Physical inactivity is an important modifiable cause of the excess burden of disease among Indigenous Australians. We describe physical activity patterns and influencing factors, comparing Indigenous and non-Indigenous adolescents. Methods: Indigenous (n=359) and non-Indigenous (n=637) adolescents aged 13–17 years from disadvantaged New South Wales regions completed a health and lifestyle survey. Socio-demographic, social, psychosocial and health correlates of out of school physical activity (high vs. low) among the whole sample, and stratified by Indigenous status were examined. Results: Only 21% of Indigenous and 28% of non-Indigenous adolescents achieved higher levels of physical activity. Overall, higher levels were associated with being male; sports team membership; lower levels of TV viewing time and having an employed mother. Indigenous girls were less active than boys (OR=0.36; 85%CI=0.24–0.54), as were those whose mothers were unemployed (OR=0.66; 95%CI=0.40–1.09). Among non-Indigenous adolescents, high levels of physical activity were associated with sports team membership (OR=2.28; 95%CI=1.39–3.74) and community involvement (OR=1.46; 95%CI=1.04–2.06). Conclusions: Physical activity levels were similarly low among disadvantaged Indigenous and non-Indigenous adolescents. Some influencing factors existed across the whole sample; others in stratification by Indigenous status. Implications for public health: Early and targeted, supportive approaches are necessary. Some apply to disadvantaged adolescents broadly; others are Indigenous or non-Indigenous specific.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-192
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • physical activity
  • Indigenous
  • adolescence


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