Understanding physical activity patterns among rural Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal young people

Rona Macniven*, Justin Richards, Nicole Turner, Steve Blunden, Adrian Bauman, John Wiggers, Josephine Gwynn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


INTRODUCTION: Physical activity across the lifespan is essential to good health but participation rates are generally lower in rural areas and among Aboriginal Australians. Declines in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) commence before adolescence but descriptive epidemiology of patterns of physical activity among Aboriginal children is limited. MVPA variation by season, setting and type at two time points among rural Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australian children was examined.

METHODS: Children aged 10-14 years in 38 schools in two rural New South Wales towns during 2007-2008 (T1) and 2011-2012 (T2) self-reported time spent engaged in MVPA for different types, settings and seasons, totalling 14 components: organised, non-organised, club, school, travel to/from school, after school and weekend - in both summer and winter. Linear mixed models assessed MVPA mean minutes and 95% confidence intervals for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children and between-group mean differences over time.

RESULTS: A total of 1545 children (246 Aboriginal) at T1 and 923 children (240 Aboriginal) at T2 provided data. Overall MVPA, travel to/from school (summer and winter) and after-school activity (winter) declined over time in both groups (p&le;0.005). Significant declines occurred in non-organised, school (summer and winter) and organised (winter) activity among Aboriginal children only. There were differences according to Aboriginality from T1 to T2 for school (summer and winter; p<0.001), weekend (summer; p=0.02) and winter organised (winter; p<0.001) activity .

CONCLUSIONS: While overall physical activity declines occurred between 2007-208 (T1) and 2011-2012 (T2) in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal rural-dwelling children, declines in particular components of physical activity were greater among Aboriginal compared to non-Aboriginal children. A multi-strategy, holistic approach to increase physical activity during the critical time of adolescence is necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4876
Number of pages8
JournalRural and Remote Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • adolescence
  • Australia
  • community
  • epidemiology
  • Indigenous


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