couch potatoes

New data released by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that despite the heavy cost of managing injuries associated with physical activity the burden of treating conditions resulting from physical inactivity is hundreds of millions of dollars more.

The AIHW report Economics of sports injury and participation – Preliminary results is aimed at gauging the potential savings through improving injury prevention and management and increasing physical activity across the population.

It found that around three quarters of a billion dollars is spent each year on managing relatively severe injuries associated with inadequate injury prevention and management during physical activity ($764 million in 2018-19).

But –  and it’s a big one  – conditions associated with physical inactivity cost the health system $968 million in the same period.

The report is the first stage of a national sports injury data strategy consultation aimed at developing an effective National Sports Injury Data Asset (NSIDA).

‘Australia is a sporting nation and participation in sport improves our health and wellbeing, however, these benefits are often lessened as a result of injuries that could either have been prevented or better managed,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr. Adrian Webster.

In partnership with Sport Australia and the AIS, the AIHW is investigating the existing and potential data sources that could be used to improve sports injury prevention and management. The aim is to investigate how a NSIDA could:

  • provide insight into the types and causes of sports injury in the community
  • help sports bodies and their participants to understand where injury prevention programs are needed
  • provide ongoing surveillance to monitor trends and evaluate injury prevention programs.

The AIHW is talking with sports organisations, health-care providers, insurers and government agencies to understand what sports injury data is currently being collected. A new online sports injury data collection tool is being piloted to fill a gap in community sports injury reporting. This tool can be used by players, parents, coaches and trainers to record injuries.

‘It is hoped that piloting this tool will help us learn how best to collect data on community sports injuries,’ Dr. Webster said.

A pilot project will be rolled out by mid-2022 for use on smartphones, tablets and computers.

Feedback on the proposed data strategy can be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling the project team on (02) 6249 5292 until 18 April 2022.

The AIHW is about to release a follow-up study Hospitalised sports injury in Australia, 2019–20.