Health & Wellness

Canadians Are Too Sedentary

A new report gives Canadians a poor grade when it comes to physical activity

Photo: iStock/txking.


ParticipACTION recently released its first Report Card on Physical Activity for Adults, and Canadians adults managed only a “D” rating as a result of their overall inactivity. Created in the 1970s as a federal government program and today a national non-profit, the organization points out in its assessment of Canadians’ physical activity that, according to Statistics Canada numbers, only 16% get the recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous exercise.

The report card states that 29% of adults between the ages of 18 and 79 have a “low active lifestyle,” walking between 5,000 to 7,499 steps a day. Those walking fewer than 5,000 steps a day—18% of us—are considered to live a sedentary lifestyle. The other half of the population (52%) is considered active, walking 7,500 steps or more a day, but the report also noted that Canadians are sedentary for an average of 10 hours a day—excluding time spent asleep.

“Our first report card on physical activity for adults sheds light on the inactivity crisis among adults in Canada,” Elio Antunes, president and CEO of ParticipACTION, said in a statement. “These report findings need to serve as a spark for change, and as a reminder that as we get older we must remain physically active so we can age better,” he said. “Physical activity needs to be a vital part of everyday life for Canadians of all ages.”

With the number of people over 65 growing in Canada, the group says it worries about how a lack of exercise could affect people’s health as they grow older, observing that as of 2012, inactivity lead directly and indirectly to total health care costs of $6.8 billion.

“Any movement is good movement, at any age—in particular, for adults and older adults,” the chair of the Report Card Research Committee, Nora Johnston, said in a statement. “What became clear in the report card findings is that physical activity needs to become more of a priority. You can’t stop aging, but you can age better with physical activity.”

The report offers suggestions for those who aren’t sure how to get going, starting with “move more”: walk the dog, garden, do chores, walk to the store or around the block. The report recommends trying different types of exercise until you find one you enjoy. Ask friends to join you so that exercise becomes a social event and you don’t get bored. If you struggle to get into high-intensity workouts, start with moderate activities such as biking and swimming. Physical activity, even if it’s not enough, is better than remaining sedentary.