When compared to the findings from U. Our prevalence estimate for meeting the strength training guidelines is slightly higher than in previous Australian studies. However, when compared to data from previous U. Furthermore, when compared to the most recent physical activity prevalence data from the WHO Global Health Observatory [ 35 ], the proportions of Australians in our sample meeting the MVPA guidelines is somewhat similar. The importance of physical inactivity from a clinical perspective was highlighted in a recent report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [ 61 ].
Given the substantial health benefits associated with regular participation in both MVPA and strength training, the low prevalence of Australian adults meeting these guidelines is of serious concern for public health. Comprehensive approaches are needed to promote and support both aspects of physical activity concurrently at the population level.
The sociodemographic correlates of strength training and MVPA observed in this study are consistent with existing data. Previous research has shown that older age, lower education levels and having poor health are associated with a lower prevalence of strength training [ 62 ], MVPA [ 33 ] and combined strength training and MVPA [ 37 ].
Our data underscore the importance of targeting these population groups in health promotion strategies.
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More research is now needed to examine the key factors influencing strength training participation [ 66 ]. However, when contrasted the decades of research examining the correlates and predictors of leisure-time physical activity [ 33 , 67 , 68 ], comparatively little is known about the key factors influencing strength training. This study examined only a small number of potential correlates of MVPA and muscle-strengthening activities.
Future studies should move beyond this and examine other potential socio-demographic, lifestyle, psychological e. Additionally, given that strength training often requires equipment and specific knowledge in exercise instruction, future research may be needed to evaluate the effectiveness of incentives, such as subsidising equipment e.
These slight variations are likely to be explained by differences in samples and the use of diverse sedentary behaviour assessment tools. These findings are somewhat similar with research on the correlates of high volumes of siting, which show a relationship between high sitting volumes and poor health status, high BMI and high education levels [ 46 , 70 ]. The inverse associations between age and sitting time are consistent with previous large-scale studies using similar self-report measures [ 46 , 47 ]. Furthermore, there are a number of other potential correlates of sedentary behaviour [ 71 ]; however their analysis was beyond the scope of this paper.
Assuming that there may be cumulative health risks associated with insufficient physical activity and excessive sedentary behaviour, this population group are of a particular public health concern. The fact that there are up to Strengths of this study include the involvement of a large national-representative sample of Australian adults [ 48 ]. Furthermore, the current study enabled assessment of physical activity and sedentary behaviour across a variety of sociodemographic and health-related variables. A further strength was the use of standardised MVPA, strength training and sedentary behaviour assessment instruments, which allowed for comparisons with other studies.
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Limitations of the study were the use of self-report measures of MVPA, strength training and sedentary behaviour, which may have resulted in recall bias [ 72 ]. Nevertheless, for public health surveillance, standardised self-report instruments seems to be the method of choice for assessing the physical activity and sedentary behaviour levels [ 73 ].
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Furthermore, no data was available on breaks in sitting time. The frequency of breaks in sitting time among Australian adults remains to be explored in future national surveys. A further limitation to this study was that, given its cross-sectional design, the direction of causality could not have been determined.
For example, it may be that obesity lead to increased sitting time [ 75 ], but it is also possible that the direction of causality was opposite [ 76 ]. Furthermore, this study investigated only a small number of selected sociodemographic and lifestyle variables related to MVPA, muscle-strengthening activity and sedentary behaviour. Future studies are needed to identify and describe other potential correlates. This study showed that the vast majority of Australian adults do not meet the full PA recommendation that incorporates both MVPA and strength training.
In particular, our findings showing the low levels of strength training among Australian adults warrant attention. While strength training is an important component of physical activity-related health, it has practically been ignored by public health approaches to chronic disease prevention.
In addition to the continual population monitoring of strength training and MVPA levels, public health interventions should target subgroups at the highest risk of low participation levels in these physical activity-related behaviours e. Furthermore, it seems that interventions to reduce sitting time should target males, younger age groups, those with high level of education, obese individuals and those with poor self-rated health. Finally, multifaceted interventions may be needed for those with poorer self-rated health, obese individuals, those aged 25—44, and current smokers, as they are at the highest risk of high sedentary behaviour combined with insufficient MVPA and muscle-strengthening activity.
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