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During Australia’s first national lockdown in April  2020, national physical activity participation rates increased by 8% from the previous month. The recent AusPlay report tracks these rates across Australia with some interesting results due to COVID. 

Male cycling in forest with smile on his face

Adults v Children

Over the pandemic, adults became more physically active on purpose. Comparing 2019 to 2020, adult participation in sport 5 times a week increased from 42% to 44% and seven times a week increased from 25% to 28%.

Whereas for children, the numbers dropped dramatically primarily due to the drop in organised sport and restrictions on group gatherings. Comparing 2019 to 2020, child participation in sport at least once a week dropped from 55% to 43%.  

16% of adults and 23% of children have even started participating in a new organised sport by March 2021. For adults the main reason was for fitness and for children it was learning a new skill. 

Male and Females 

Across the pandemic, females became more consistent on being more active with a purpose. According to the report, women are more likely than men to participate in the types of physical activity, such as walking, which were still possible during periods of lockdown. While men tend to play more organised sports which were continually interrupted by COVID restrictions. Towards the end of 2020, male participation increased as community sport was more certain to go ahead with fewer COVID restrictions. 

Male cycling in forest with smile on his face

Missing Sport 

Across the pandemic, sport and physical activity has been interrupted constantly. With the abrupt stop to sport in April 2020, 44% of Australia chose not to participate in sports activities, which dropped to 26% in March 2021 after sport was consistently back up and running. 

The main reason for adults not returning to sport yet were concerns about COVID while for children it was because sport hadn’t fully started up again. 

Increase in Cycling 

According to the report, there were an additional 624,000 bike riders across Australia between 2019-2020. There has been a significant increase in bike sales and in NSW we’re also seeing the number of bike riders rise


“COVID has and will continue to impact how we participate in sport and physical activity. It has been great to see people doing more unorganised sport and we’ve seen many bike paths booming across NSW,” said Bicycle NSW Communications Manager, Kim Lavender. 

“These numbers show the importance of both organised and unorganised physical activity in keeping communities active and living a healthy lifestyle.”  

With COVID-19 restrictions yet again impacting organised sport, we encourage everyone to keep being active whether it’s a bike ride, walk, swim, yoga, fishing etc. Stay safe everyone and keep active. 

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