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More Kiwis Pushing Play

Media Release 17 March 2006

More Kiwis Pushing Play

New figures released today by SPARC (Sport and Recreation New Zealand) reveal that physical activity levels in New Zealand increased during the past year in the wake of SPARC’s ongoing Push Play campaign designed to get New Zealanders up and active.

The data, from an ongoing study of New Zealanders’ physical activity levels run by AC Nielsen, shows the number of Kiwis who were physically active for six months or more increased from 51 per cent in December 2004 to 66 per cent in December 2005.

In its study, SPARC defines physically active as engaging in physical activities for 2.5 hours or more per week and engaging in those activities five or more times per week.

“These are heartening results, a definitive step in the right direction for a significant portion of the New Zealand population,” said SPARC’s General Manager of Participation, Deb Hurdle.

The data also reveals that SPARC’s target group - those who want to get active but lead busy lives and sometimes don’t know where to start or need support - steadily decreased from 43 per cent in December 2004 to 27 per cent in December 2005.

SPARC’s Obstacles to Action study in 2004 identified this target group, which includes at least 350,000 Kiwis, as those most likely to respond to the organisation’s campaigns urging people to get more active.

“We’re thrilled that our message is reaching the right people,” said Hurdle. “Throughout the year there was a consistent upward trend in the number of active New Zealanders.”

Hurdle cautioned, however, that with the end of daylight saving this weekend, signalling the onset of the winter months, it’s easy for physical activity to become a low priority.

“There are a number of ways to keep active during the colder months: Sign up for indoor sports programmes or throw on your winter woollies and take your children down to the local park,” suggested Hurdle. “Now is a good time to formulate a plan that will keep you active and healthy over winter.”

“Kiwis need to Push Play for 30 minutes a day on most days of the week to reap health benefits,” said Hurdle. “Winter is not an excuse to hang up the trainers.”

Despite the positive news from the recently compiled data, Hurdle noted that households with very young children continue to remain insufficiently active. Aucklanders were also more likely to be insufficiently active.

“We continue to emphasize that it’s important for parents to engage in physical activity with their children at an early age,” Hurdle added. “Parents will benefit, but studies also show that healthy development of a child’s brain and body is greatly affected by quality physical movement experiences.”

Data from the study also indicated that the proportion of people aged 50 years and older in the target group decreased significantly during the year, suggesting that those individuals also responded well to the Push Play campaign.

AC Nielsen conducted 3,410 telephone interviews of randomly selected New Zealanders during the 2005 calendar year in compiling the results of this study. Results were reported to SPARC on a quarterly basis.

Ideas and resources to help people get more active are available at


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