Associations of awareness of physical activity recommendations for health and self-reported physical activity behaviours among adult South Australians

Narelle M Berry, Rebecca Nolan, James Dollman

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OBJECTIVES: Despite widespread media campaigns to encourage physical activity (PA), participation is poor among Australian adults. This study aimed to explore the prevalence of and relationships between awareness of PA recommendations and PA participation. 

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study of n=2402 South Australian adults (aged≥18 years) via a computer-assisted telephone interview. 

METHODS: PA recommendation awareness was determined by asking for the number of minutes of PA recommended for health benefits and whether PA is needed to make you 'puff and pant' to confer a health benefit. Respondents were defined as sufficiently active if they reported ≥150min/week of PA as measured by the Active Australia Survey. 

RESULTS: A total of 43.0% correctly identified that 30min of PA is recommended per day (Recommendation 1) and 43.3% correctly disagreed/strongly disagreed that PA is needed to make you 'puff and pant' (Recommendation 2). Overall, 60.6% of respondents were sufficiently active. Of those who correctly identified Recommendation 1, 53.2% reported participating in sufficient PA, significantly fewer than those who did not know Recommendation 1 (69.6%) (χ(2)=64.74 (4), p<0.001). There was no difference in levels of sufficient PA between those who correctly identified Recommendation 2 and those who did not. 

CONCLUSIONS: There was relatively low awareness of PA recommendations among South Australian adults. More research is needed in how recommendations are promoted and how they impact PA behaviours. PA recommendations are based on the best available epidemiological evidence but largely fail to guide the choices people currently make about PA. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)837–842
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue number10
Early online date28 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • physical activity
  • guidelines
  • awareness
  • exercise
  • physical fitness
  • adults

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