With a lot of organised sport on hold due to COVID-19 this year, Australians turned to running, riding, and yoga to stay active and socially connected, according to Sport Australia.
Spot Australia's latest AusPlay survey looked at sport and physical activity habits across the country, focusing on the early impact of COVID-19 on participation.
The results included data from Sport Australia's other survey tool, the Community Perceptions Monitor, which showed children bore the brunt of the sport shutdown.
Sport Australia acting chief executive officer Rob Dalton said AusPlay was an important way to track how Australians engage with sport and physical activity, especially in a year like no other where there were concerns around the impact a lack of organised sport would have on the community.
"We know COVID-19 has had a huge impact on our ability to be active and participate in organised sport," Mr Dalton said.
"Not only did Australians change how and how often they were physically active, but their reasons for doing so changed as well, with more participants moving for mental health and social reasons."
Mr Dalton said the research also highlighted the important role sport can play in bringing communities together.
"Almost half [44 per cent] of Australians said they missed sport being in their life and 57 per cent of adult participants were looking forward to being able to play their chosen sport again," Mr Dalton said.
"Those who found it easier during the sports shutdown to remain active and engaged in physical activity reported feeling a greater sense of well-being, optimism and connection, which serves to demonstrate the crucial role that sports can play in the national recovery from the pandemic."
The results showed lockdown affected children more than adults. Around 73 per cent of Australian adults continued to move during lockdown with jogging/running, yoga, exercise at home and cycling the top activities. But just 17 per cent of children were still able to take part in organised physical activities outside of school, according to AusPlay.
The results showed dancing had the highest continuation for children during this time, followed by tennis and soccer.
By comparison, more than three-quarters (76.1 per cent) of Australian children participated in organised outside-of-school sport or physical activity in 2019, according to data.
Mr Dalton said the results emphasised the need to get children moving again to ensure they meet the recommended one hour of physical activity each day.
Interestingly, I had a conversation with another parent at our local park during the week about how great it was during lockdown earlier this year to see so many people and families taking advantage of the park every evening.
If we can take anything out of this year, that will be it for me. How having the stop button pressed on all of our weekly activities for an extended period of time forced us to find new ways to stay active, which definitely help alleviate mounting stress in our household.
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Renee Valentine is a journalist, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.