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Kiwis beat Aussies in battle of physical activity

Hon Trevor Mallard
Minister for Sport and Recreation

2 November 2005 Media Statement

Kiwis beat Aussies in battle of physical activity

Trevor Mallard restores kiwi pride in the battle of the parliamentary steps – the Australian High Commissioner is well off the pace.

Minister for Sport and Recreation Trevor Mallard today congratulated Kiwis for winning the ‘Bledisloe Cup of physical activity’ in recent research that compares New Zealand and Australian physical activity levels.

"I'm right behind any trans-Tasman battle that ends in victory for New Zealanders. We have had a spectacular run recently that has also seen us triumphant in the netball, hockey and the league,” Trevor Mallard said.

In the same week as national Push Play Day, (Friday, November 4) which focuses on getting active, an Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health article reports that New Zealand adults are more physically active than their Australian counterparts – 63.7 percent of New Zealanders are active versus Australians at 58.8 percent.

"As a mature Kiwi bloke, this victory is especially sweet, considering that us mature Kiwi blokes have been the biggest contributor to this satisfying win."

New Zealand men aged 50 to 65 contributed most to the difference, with 63.2 per cent of Kiwi males active compared to only 50.3 per cent of Australian males in the same age bracket.

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"It was a tight contest but it’s good to see New Zealand come out on top against the Aussies. It seems that the ‘30 minutes of physical activity a day’ message being promoted in the government Push Play campaign, run by Sport and Recreation NZ (SPARC), is becoming a way of life here in New Zealand," Trevor Mallard said.

"Being a more active nation than Australia is something we can all be very proud of and means we are well on the way to becoming the most active nation. Let’s keep it up and celebrate our win by continuing to be involved this Friday on Push Play Day."

The research found that the New Zealand environment and the Kiwi way of life were possible factors contributing to the difference. A wide range of physically active sport and recreation pursuits are popular here - such as swimming, tramping, golf and walking.
National and government-funded activities such as the Push Play campaign, and Green Prescriptions (where health professionals provide written advice to patients to be more physically active as part of their health management) also contributed to New Zealand's success.

A fact sheet about SPARC and questions and answers are attached. The full research article is in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health: Vol. 29, No. 5.


Fact sheet: Sport and Recreation in New Zealand

The Labour-led government will spend approximately $50.83 million on sport and recreation in 2005-2006, $57.67 million in 2006-2007, $58.87 million in 2007-2008 and $59.76 million in 2008-2009.

Most of this funding is to Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC), but it also includes funding for the New Zealand Sports Drug Agency, which receives $1.44 million annually.

The total taxpayer spend for the next four years from 2005-06 through until 2008-2009 will be $227.13 million. In addition, revenue from other sources, including the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board, is around $151 million over this period.

Being the most active nation - communities and schools

$165 million over four years 2005-06 to 2008-09

- Push Play - a nationwide campaign to get more New Zealanders more active more often

- Active Movement - aimed at getting more infants, toddlers and young children more active

- Active Schools - aimed at improving the physical activity opportunities and experiences for children in our primary schools

- Green Prescription - where health professionals provide written advice to patients to be more physically active, as part of their health management

- Volunteers strategy - development of training resources and a campaign aimed at recruiting, retaining and recognising volunteers

High Performance support - supporting New Zealand's top athletes

$155 million over four years 2005-06 to 2008-09

- New Zealand Academy of Sport (SPARC's high performance network)

- Carded athletes and coaches

- Prime Minister’s Scholarships - Financial assistance for tertiary study and professional development expenses for selected athletes, coaches and officials

- Performance Enhancement Grants - to defray living costs for a fixed period to coincide with the competitive cycle of an athlete’s sport, thus allowing them to concentrate on excelling at sport

- New Zealand Coaching Strategy

Sport and Recreation systems

$59 million over four years 2005-06 to 2008-09

- Relationship Management and Investment

- Strengthening regional delivery, through Regional Sports Trusts and National Sporting Organisations

- Development of a National Sports Policy Framework

Question and Answers

International Prevalence Study (IPS) 2002-2003

1. What is the IPS study?

The IPS is an international study conducted between 2002 and 2003 that aimed to provide a comparison of physical activity levels of adults across a wide range of countries.

International Physical Activity Questionnaire
There are many different ways of measuring physical activity and they have varied both within and between countries.
A number of leading researchers got together and established the International Physical Activity Consensus group in the late 1990s with the aim of working together to develop a set of well-developed instruments that can be used internationally to obtain comparable estimates of physical activity.
As a consequence the International Physical Activity Questionnaires (IPAQ) were developed and tested for use in adults (aged 15-69 years). There are two versions of the questionnaire. The short version is suitable for use in national and regional surveillance systems and the long version provide more detailed information often required in research work or for evaluation purposes.
International Prevalence Study (IPS)
The next step was to actually use the new IPAQ questionnaires to compare physical activity across countries.
So in 2002 a range of countries were invited by the Consensus Group to participate in the International Prevalence Study (of physical activity) study and 19 countries took up the opportunity including New Zealand and Australia.
The New Zealand study was co-funded by SPARC and the Ministry of Health. The New Zealand survey was conducted by a research company National Research Bureau (NRB) and the dataset was then provided to the IPS Data Management Centre at Sydney University’s Centre for Physical Activity and Health for analyses in 2003.
See the IPAQ website for more background and the physical activity instruments themselves at www.ipaq.ki.se

2. What was the methodology for the study?

The IPS study was conducted in 19 countries. The New Zealand and Australian studies were conducted by telephone. The Australian sample was 2600 adults (response rate of 55 percent) and 1500 New Zealand adults (response rate of 42 percent).

The New Zealand study also included a set of questions on the perceptions of the environment and their relationship with physical activity. This module was not included in the Australian study.

3. What results have been produced?

The Research Letter in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health refers to the New Zealand and Australian data from the IPS study.

This is a first step in getting some of the New Zealand results from the study formally published.

The full study report which details the final results across the 19 participating countries is now due. While provisional data have been produced by the Data Management Centre based at the Centre for Physical Activity at the University of Sydney final results and a draft report have not yet been produced for consideration and review by the contributing countries. Once this document has been completed and reviewed the data will be formally published in the academic literature.

As soon as this formal report is available it will be made publicly available.

4. Which countries were involved in the full study?

Czech Republic
Hong Kong
New Zealand
United States
Saudi Arabia

5. Is the data statistically significant?

Yes. The overall results and the key differences in physical activity levels identified in the article are statistically significant.

The results are within the margin of error with a confidence interval of 95 percent. That is the range of the results are as follows:

New Zealand 63.7 percent active: the true range of the results is between 61.75 percent and 66.90 percent active

Australia 58.8 percent active: true range of the results is between 55.8 percent and 60.5 percent.

The overall results that 63.7 percent of New Zealand adults are active compared to 58.8 percent of Australians suggests that New Zealand adults are slightly more active overall than our Australian counterparts. The results also show that it is really New Zealand males that appear to account for the differences in activity levels, particularly the more mature males (the 50 to 65 years age group).

6. How was physical activity categorised?

The level was set at the equivalent of 3000 MET Mins per week.

A MET is a Metabolic Equivalent (a unit of energy expenditure which categorises an activity by its energy requirement as compared to the resting heart rate).

MET-Mins are calculated by multiplying the MET score by the minutes performed.

To achieve 3000 MET Mins requires a person to do a minimum of about one hour of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity per day. For example accumulating an hour of brisk walking per day, and/or doing some vigorous physical activity such as running or fast cycling.

This relatively high threshold was set because the physical activity questionnaire used for the study captures all types of physical activity (whether physical activity for sport and recreation, for active transport, for work and so on) done at a moderate intensity or greater (levels of exertion). Therefore, a high threshold of physical activity was established to be able to measure and compare differences in physical activity levels.

Moderate intensity physical activity is defined as physical activity that makes you breath harder than normal.

Vigorous intensity physical activity makes you “huff and puff”.

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