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2021 Adult Report Card

Moving toward a Better Normal

Canada faces a physical inactivity crisis deepened by COVID-19. Will we make the necessary choices to move toward a new, better normal?

Senior lady holding a purple yoga mat

What is the Report Card?

The 2021 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Adults represents a comprehensive summary of the literature and national-level surveys in the field of physical activity, recreation and sport.

The Report Card assigns letter grades to 18 different indicators grouped into four categories:

 

  • Daily Behaviours
  • Individual Characteristics
  • Spaces, Places & Cultural Norms
  • Strategies & Investments
Adult report card cover depicting two motivated individuals, one jumping on a couch
Senior aged couple hiking in sportwear

What does the Report Card talk about?

  • Virtually every person living in Canada experienced a tremendously challenging 2020 and 2021 – the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought uncertainty to our physical health, mental well-being, financial security and social connections.
  • Beyond the grades and evidence, this year’s Report Card examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights many of the challenges and opportunities it has brought about in the physical activity space.

Spotlight on key grades:

  • Are adults getting enough sleep?

  • How can adults improve the grade?

  • Are adults making the grade?

Elderly woman smiling doing gardening surrounded by flowers

Light physical activity

Grade: C+

What is light physical activity?

Activity that requires using up low levels of energy such as walking for leisure, standing work or light housework.

Light physical activity is often linked with activities that fuel our social connections. Whether it’s a brisk walk with a sibling, a family hike, or cutting a rug in a group dance class, so many of our favourite physical activities involve engaging with others.

As we plan for a stronger, healthier Canada, let’s embrace the benefits of bonding through movement with friends, family members and neighbours.

Key stats & facts:

56% of adults ages 18-79 years

living in Canada get at least 3 hours of light physical activity per day (Statistics Canada, Canadian Health Measures Survey [CHMS], Cycle 6 [2018 and 2019]).

58% of men and 53% of women

get at least 3 hours of light physical activity per day (Statistics Canada, custom tabulation, CHMS, Cycle 6 [2018 and 2019]).

Sedentary behaviours

Grade: F

What is sedentary behaviour?

Any waking behaviour characterized by very little energy expenditure, while in a sitting, reclining or lying posture.

More than 60% of Canadians reported spending more time using the internet and watching TV during the pandemic, significantly increasing unhealthy sedentary behaviours.

As Canada largely stayed home due to necessary public health guidelines, walks to work, park playdates, busy shifts and other once accessible ways to stay active fell to the bottom of our priority lists. Screens replaced social outings as many of us took comfort in the couch, or through alcohol and other substances, which may have negative long-term health effects.

Man using smartphone laying on couch

Key stats & facts:

12% of adults 18 to 79 years

Achieved ≤8 hours of sedentary time per day (Statistics Canada, custom tabulation, CHMS, Cycle 6 [2018 and 2019]).

50.1% of participants reported increased sitting

And 62.8% reported increased use of screen-based devices for leisure.

Man on a speed bike wearing a helm

Active transportation

Grade: F

What is active transportation?

Human-powered transportation (e.g., walking, cycling, wheeling) to get to and from places.

The lifestyles of those able to work from home underwent a drastic transformation. Active transportation and bustling workdays with active breaks for walking meetings or coffee runs were replaced with week-after-week spent cooped up at home.

Research shows that time outdoors interacting with nature and green spaces can improve our mental health. The benefits of moving outdoors can go even further as many of us cope with anxiety about climate change and the environment. We can feel empowered that when we choose to walk, ride or wheel, we’re also decreasing our environmental footprint.

Key stats & facts:

7% of adults

living in Canada use active travel like walking or cycling to get to work (Statistics Canada, Census 2016).

39% of adults

indicated that they walk either part or all of the way as a means to get to work or school or to get around generally, and 12% indicated that they bicycle either part or all of the way (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Physical Activity Monitor, 2019-2021).

The 2021 grades are in!

Light Physical Activity (LPA)

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Total Daily Steps

Total Daily Steps

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Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA)

Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA)

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Muscle Strengthening Activities

Muscle Strengthening Activities

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Muscle Strengthening Activities

Balance Activities

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Muscle Strengthening Activities

Active Transportation (AT)

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Muscle Strengthening Activities

Sport Participation

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Muscle Strengthening Activities

Sleep

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Muscle Strengthening Activities

Sedentary Behaviours (SB)

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Muscle Strengthening Activities

24-Hour Movement Behaviours

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Muscle Strengthening Activities

Perceived Capability

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Muscle Strengthening Activities

Perceived Opportunity

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Muscle Strengthening Activities

Motivation

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Muscle Strengthening Activities

Facilities and Infrastructure

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Muscle Strengthening Activities

Programming

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Muscle Strengthening Activities

Policies and Leadership

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Muscle Strengthening Activities

Social Environment

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Muscle Strengthening Activities

Government

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Light Physical Activity (LPA)

  • 56% of adults 18 to 79 years living in Canada get at least 3 hours of LPA per day (Statistics Canada, CHMS, Cycle 6 [2018 and 2019]).
  • The percentage of adults achieving at least 3 hours of LPA per day does not generally vary significantly by age, gender, having a chronic condition or ethnicity (Statistics Canada, custom tabulation, CHMS, Cycle 6 [2018 and 2019]).
  • 58% of adults 18 to 64 years
  • 43% of adults 65 to 79 years
  • 58% of men and 53% of women get at least 3 hours of LPA per day (Statistics Canada, custom tabulation, CHMS, Cycle 6 [2018 and 2019]).
  • 52% of adults with one or more chronic condition and 68% of adults with no chronic condition report at least 3 hours of LPA per day (Statistics Canada, custom tabulation, CHMS, Cycle 6 [2018 and 2019]).

Total Daily Steps

  • 49% of adults 18 to 79 years living in Canada take at least 7,500 steps per day, which falls within the ‘physically active lifestyle’ category, down slightly from 52% in the 2019 report card.
  • 51% of adults 18 to 64 years
  • 39% of adults 65 to 79 years
  • 53% of men take at least 7,500 steps per day, while 46% of women do so (Statistics Canada, custom tabulation, CHMS, Cycle 6 [2018 and 2019]).
  • 47% of adults with one or more chronic conditions take at least 7,500 steps per day, while 57% of adults with no chronic conditions achieve this (Statistics Canada, Canadian Health Measures Survey [CHMS], Cycle 6 [2018 and 2019]).

Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity (MVPA)

  • 49% of adults 18 to 79 years living in Canada get at least 150 minutes of MVPA per week (Statistics Canada, custom tabulation, CHMS, Cycle 6 [2018 and 2019]).
  • A higher percentage of adults aged 18 to 64 (53%) indicate that they achieve at least 150 minutes of MVPA per week compared to adults aged 65 to 79 (28%) (Statistics Canada, custom tabulation, CHMS, Cycle 6 [2018 and 2019]).
  • 52% of men and 46% of women get at least 150 minutes of MVPA per week (Statistics Canada, custom tabulation, CHMS, Cycle 6 [2018 and 2019]).
  • 47% of adults with one or more chronic condition achieve at least 150 minutes of MVPA per week, while 56% of adults with no chronic conditions achieve this amount (Statistics Canada, custom tabulation, CHMS, Cycle 6 [2018 and 2019]).
  • 56% of adults identifying as a visible minority obtain at least 150 minutes of MVPA per week(Statistics Canada, custom tabulation, CHMS, Cycle 6 [2018 and 2019]).

Muscle Strengthening Activities

  • 25% of adults 18 years or older do muscle strengthening activities at least twice a week (2021 Physical Activity Monitor – Health Survey, CFLRI).

Balance Activities

  • 23% of adults 65 and older reported they had engaged in balance activities in the past week (2021 Physical Activity Monitor – Health Survey, CFLRI).

Active Transportation (AT)

  • 7% of adults living in Canada use active travel like walking or bicycling to get to work (Statistics Canada, Census 2016).
  • 39% of adults indicated that they walk either part or all of the way to get to work or school or to get around generally, and 12% indicated that they bicycle either part or all of the way (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Physical Activity Monitor, 2019-2021).

Sport Participation

  • 27% of adults 18 years or older participate in sport (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Physical Activity Monitor, 2019-2021).
  • A greater percentage of men than women participate in sport.
  • Participation decreases substantially with age, from 44% of 18- to 24-years-olds to 16% of adults 65 years and older.
  • Participation is higher among adults living in higher income households (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Physical Activity Monitor, 2019-2021).

Sleep

  • 73% of adults 18 to 79 years living in Canada meet sleep duration recommendations (Canadian Community Health Survey [CCHS] Rapid Response Module).77% of 18- to 64-year-olds meet sleep recommendations. 55% of 65- to 79-year-olds meet sleep recommendations.

Sedentary Behaviours (SB)

  • 12% of adults 18 to 79 years achieved ≤8 hours of sedentary time per day(Statistics Canada, custom tabulation, CHMS, Cycle 6 [2018 and 2019]).

24-Hour Movement Behaviours

  • Incomplete due to unavailability of data that use the same criteria as the guidelines.

Perceived Capability

  • 66% of adults living in Canada agree that they have the ability to be active (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Impact of COVID-19 on Physical Activity Survey, 2020-2021).
  • 69% of adults living in Canada agree that they could successfully be active/participate in sport (CFLRI, Sport Monitor [SM], 2021).
  • A greater percentage of adults aged 25 to 44 years agree to some extent that they have the ability to be active, compared to adults older than 44 years (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Impact of COVID-19 on Physical Activity Survey, 2020-2021).

Perceived Opportunity

  • 58% of adults living in Canada agreed that they have the opportunity to be active (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Impact of COVID-19 on Physical Activity Survey, 2020-2021).
  • 74% of adults living in Canada agreed that they live in an area where there are many opportunities to do physical activity/sport (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Sport Monitor, 2020).
  • 74% of adults living in Canada agreed that people close to them feel positively about them being active/participating in sport (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Sport Monitor, 2020).

Motivation

  • 79% agreed that they intend to participate in physical activity/sport in the next 12 months (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Sport Monitor, 2020).
  • 83% of adults agreed to some extent that they feel positively about participating in sport or being active (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Sport Monitor, 2020).
  • A higher percentage of men indicated that they agree that they feel positively about participating in sport or being active.

Facilities and Infrastructure

  • 74% of communities with more than 1,000 residents have at least one of the following facilities to support active transportation within their community:
  • Designated bike lanes
  • Non-motorized multi-purpose trails
  • Multi-purpose trails that also allow motorized vehicles (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Opportunities for Physical Activity in Canadian Communities Survey, 2020-2021).
  • 65-70% of all municipalities have facilities that are in better than fair condition (CIRC, 2019).
  • 73% of communities with more than 1,000 residents state that repair of sporting facilities, poor lighting and crime are not important barriers in their community (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Opportunities for Physical Activity at Work Survey, 2020-2021).

Programming

  • 84% of communities with at least 1,000 residents provide programming to at least one specific targeted population (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Opportunities for Physical Activity in Canadian Communities, 2020-2021).
  • 44% of sport organizations provide programming that supports specific targeted populations (e.g., youth, women and girls, persons with disabilities, Indigenous populations) (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Sport Organizations Survey, 2020-2021).

Policies and Leadership

  • 42% of communities with at least 1,000 residents have a master plan for parks and recreation, and 22% have a formal strategy for physical activity and sport opportunities for its citizens (CFLRI, custom tabulations, Opportunities for Physical Activity in Canadian Communities, 2020-2021).
  • 17% of these communities have a plan for active transportation (CFLRI, custom tabulations, Opportunities for Physical Activity in Canadian Communities, 2020-2021).
  • 85% of sport organizations indicate that strategic resources or guidelines have influenced their policies or programming (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Sport organization survey, 2020-2021).

Social Environment

  • 38% of municipalities indicate sufficient leaders, coaches, technical staff and officials to fulfill their mandate to a considerable extent (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Opportunities for Physical Activity in Canadian Communities, 2020-2021).
  • 48% of municipalities and 39% of sport organizations indicate a method to ensure appropriate training for volunteers (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Opportunities for Physical Activity in Canadian Communities, 2020-2021).
  • 84% of municipalities indicate partnerships/collaboration for sport programming delivery (CFLRI, custom tabulation, Opportunities for Physical Activity in Canadian Communities, 2020-2021).

Government

  • The 2021 federal budget pledged $80 million over two years, starting in 2021-22, to Canadian Heritage to remove barriers to participation in sports programming and to help community organizations kick-start local organized sports that are accessible to all.
  • The 2018 federal budget highlighted the government’s commitment to physical activity by pledging to invest $5 million per year for five consecutive years (totaling $25 million) in ParticipACTION.139
  • According to representatives from federal, provincial and territorial governments, 92% note having policies and programs that support increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour among Canadians (ParticipACTION, 2019).Custom analysis
  • Almost 70% of federal, provincial and territorial governments report that funds invested in physical activity programming has remained the same over the past fiscal years, while close to 10% of provinces/territories noted a decrease and 25% an increase (ParticipACTION, 2019). Custom analysis

Tools & Resources

Key Grades Infographic - 2021

Communications Toolkit - 2021

Press Release - 2021

Presentation - 2021

Full Report - 2021

Strategic & content partner

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