JUMPING TO IT: Participants at a recent parkrun at Stanthorpe's Gleeson Park.
JUMPING TO IT: Participants at a recent parkrun at Stanthorpe's Gleeson Park. Glen Brunckhorst

Most popular Aussie sports and activities revealed

AUSTRALIANS are getting fitter, a recent survey reveals, and Stanthorpe fitness junkies are not surprised.

Sport Australia's latest annual AusPlay survey data shows 63 per cent of Australians interviewed in 2018 have participated in sport or physical activity at least three times per week, compared to 59.9 per cent in 2016.

The survey also reveals Australia's top 20 sports and physical activities.

Walking tops the list of most popular activities, with gym use for fitness, swimming, running and cycling the runners-up.

The statistic makes perfect sense to Stanthorpe parkrun event co-director Glen Brunckhorst.

The Stanthorpe event started four years ago with an average of 56 participants, but this year that number sits around 80.

Parkrun is a free, non-competitive event where runners and walkers take the same track at Gleeson Park on Talc St on Saturday mornings.

It's timed, so participants are only competing against themselves to improve each week, but its atmosphere is easygoing and inclusive with a weekly coffee date following the run.

"It gets more and more popular as new events crop up around Australia, and globally now as well,” Mr Brunckhorst said.

Mr Brunckhorst said the social aspect of the event was a major drawcard.

"I feel mentally it's a bit stronger than the physical side of it - just chatting and going for a walk,” he said.

"You haven't got to worry about anything. The course is free. There's no political things involved, it's just turn up and run or walk, or even volunteer.”

Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer said it was encouraging to see a gradual increase in physical activity levels of Australians but warned it would require much more improvement and long-term behavioural change to combat Australia's inactivity crisis.

"The positive news in this data is that it shows Australians are making the effort to get moving because they are becoming more aware of the importance of sport and physical activity to their health and wellbeing,” Ms Palmer said.

"It's a small step in the right direction, but we're still falling a long way behind when it comes to meeting recommended physical activity guidelines. For example, research tells us only 19 per cent of children meet the recommended one hour of physical activity a day.

"Our general lifestyles are becoming more sedentary than ever before because of things such as technological advances, so that makes it critically important to find dedicated time for sport and physical activity in our lives.”

Stanthorpe swimming coach Gail Smail, of Smail Swim School, says many people find swimming gentle on their body and an excellent cardio workout.

Swimming placed number three in the AusPlay results.

"It's less stressful on your body because you're in the water ... you're not putting stress on your joints,” Mrs Smail said.

"In saying that, you can get into positions that you can't get into on the land, so you're stretching muscles and tendons that you don't normally use.”

A lot of elderly people use the heated Stanthorpe pool, where Mrs Smail's swim school is based, for their regular exercise.

"They can get in and do their hour and they're home before everyone's ... up and about,” she said.

Mrs Smail said one of the barriers for locals was fear, as some generations were taught to keep away from water and many weren't taught to swim.

What she loved most about swimming was "the tranquillity of it”.

"You can just get in there and lose yourself. You clear your head and don't think about whatever you don't want to think about.”

Top 10 sports

1. Walking (Recreational)

2. Fitness/Gym

3. Swimming

4. Running/Athletics

5. Cycling

6. Football

7. Tennis

8. Bush walking

9. Basketball

10. Golf

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