Live Better

Physical activity hits a 10-year high

Findings have been released in line with the 12-month anniversary of Medibank’s Free + Active program

The number of active Australians has reached a 10-year high, with almost half a million taking up exercise in the last year alone, according to new Medibank data.

The findings have been released in line with the 12-month anniversary of Medibank’s Free + Active program, which has helped 250,000 Australians get active in its first year through increased access to free, social activity in communities nationwide Medibank’s Free + Active program motivating Australians.

Medibank’s Free + Active program motivating Australians

Medibank’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Linda Swan said Medibank  launched Free + Active to help tackle inactivity and promote community connection through access to free, social activities.

“When we launched the program last year, we made a commitment to help 1.5 million Australians get active in mind, body and community by 2022 through partnering with community organisations that share the Free + Active vision. In 12 months, we’ve opened more than 50 new events across the country, helping us achieve our year-one goal of reaching 250,000 people, and we look forward to continuing our efforts over the next four years.”

Medibank Free + Active partners include parkrun, the Medibank Feel Good Program, Live Life Get Active, OneWave, Bold & Beautiful Swim Squad and Laughter Clubs Victoria. On Saturday 25 August, Medibank will open its 40th new parkrun event, at East Gardens in Geelong, Victoria.

Findings are a step in the right direction

The data, from the Medibank Better Health Index1, reveals 9.7 million Australians are now physically active, up from 9.2 million one year ago2. This represents a significant uplift of 452,000 people in just 12 months, and an increase of 2.6 million over the last 10 years3.

According to Medibank data, the last 12 months have also seen an increase in our national exercise expenditure, with our collective investment rising from $7.1 billion to $7.7 billion in the last year, and the average person now spending $504 on exercise annually — up from $473 in 20174.

Medibank Chief Medical Officer Dr Linda Swan said, “These findings reveal that as a nation, we’re showing signs of prioritising our physical health. However, despite these efforts, it is important to bear in mind that almost one in two Australians remain inactive, showing we still have a way to go if we’re going to combat inactivity en masse.”

When it comes to staying active, a lack of motivation was listed by Australians as the biggest barrier (57 per cent), followed by the high cost of certain exercise programs (37 per cent), and not having anyone to exercise with (31 per cent). Additionally, while 84 per cent agree they feel better both physically and mentally when they exercise, 38 per cent admit they struggle to get started.

To find a Medibank Free + Active event in your local community, visit

1. Medibank Better Health Index (MBHI), conducted by Roy Morgan Research, surveying 50,000 Australian adults aged 18+ each year since 2007.
2. 9,686,000 (50.9%) adults exercised in the last 3 months, Apr 2017 - Mar 2018 MBHI data, compared with 9,234,000 (49.4%) in Apr 2016 - Mar 2017.
3. 7,113,000 (44.4%) adults exercised in the last 3 months, Apr 2007 - Mar 2008 MBHI data.
4. Medibank commissioned research, conducted by ACA Research between 11-17 July 2017 (surveying 1,000 people) and 27-31 July 2018 (surveying 1,004 people). All results are compiled from an online survey of Australians 18+, with quotas set based on the latest population estimates sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

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