New survey says, 50% of Canadians say there is nothing better than sitting on the couch

Physical activity makes us feel great. We even describe it as enjoyable, joyful, and the best part of our day. Why then do 82% of us avoid getting active? 

ParticipACTION decided to take a closer look. 

In The ParticipACTION Pulse Report powered by MEC, we explore whether there are common feelings or attitudes toward physical activity—with the mind that we can search for helpful and practical solutions.


Canadians are aware there is a problem. 

  •  Approximately 87% of Canadians agree we need to be more physically active.   
  • Physical inactivity is a major health concern that costs the Canadian economy $6.8 billion dollars each year , is the 4th leading risk factor for death worldwide  and affects over 8 in 10 Canadian adults.
  • Canadians even compare physical inactivity to tobacco use, alcohol misuse, unhealthy diets, sitting too much, cannabis use and lack of sleep.  

We also believe the responsibility rests squarely on our shoulders.

Although Canadians think that just about everyone, to some extent, contributes to the problem including individuals, parents, employers, schools, health care providers, the fitness industry, parks and recreation services, and every level of government—we ultimately think we as individuals are at the heart of the problem. We’re the problem, but we’re also the solution!

We talk about active and inactive people very differently.

  • We use positive and complimentary language to describe active people: motivated, healthy, dedicated, strong-willed and balanced (70%). 
  • We use negative language to describe inactive people: lazy (48%) and lacking strong will (45%).

To us, this doesn’t sound like the means to a more inclusive and active Canada. Perhaps there’s some work to be done to avoid these polarized definitions by being more careful about how we talk about physical activity. We want to avoid an “us vs. them” mentality. 

We’re still on the couch.

  • 50% of Canadians say there is nothing better than being curled up on the couch.
  • Almost half (42%) of us struggle with getting motivated.
  • 57% of us have to psych ourselves up to get moving. 
  • However, we still do not feel that being active is out-of-reach (34%).

This is good news! We can all agree that it’s not always easy, but most of us agree that an active life is achievable.


It would be easier to be active if we had a better understanding of national physical activity guidelines and the benefits of being active—in other words, how much we should move, and how good it is for our bodies and minds. As well, the implementation of physical activity policies at all levels of government, in our workplace and in our schools would help make the healthier, more active choice, easier.

  • 89% of Canadians like the idea of providing mandatory daily physical education or physical activity requirements in all schools.
  • 86% of us are in support of improving universal accessibility of all recreation facilities.
  • 87% of Canadians approve enhancing the quantity and quality of green spaces in all neighbourhoods. 


A movement involves changing from one physical position to another, but it also occurs when a group of people work together to advance a shared social or political idea. We need to both address the physical inactivity problem!

A physical activity movement makes the active choice easier. A movement that supports Canadians when they fall off track. A movement that makes our schools, workplaces, and communities more active. A movement that shifts the way we think and feel about physical activity in Canada which paints the problem as a collective responsibility rather than a personal failing.  

We need a movement that makes the pulse of each Canadian beat that much stronger. 

Learn more by downloading The ParticipACTION Pulse Report powered by MEC.