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Sports for fun and fitness

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Released: 2019-05-21

Many Canadians love to play sports, whether it be for reasons of physical health and fitness, a family or recreational activity, or to compete. Over one in four Canadians (27%) aged 15 and older regularly participated in sports in 2016, with hockey (of course) topping the list.

Some participate in sports sporadically, while others do so on a regular basis. Some play on teams, while others prefer more individual activities. Regardless of age, sex or place of birth, however, a physically active lifestyle, including playing sports, can have a profoundly positive impact on the health and well-being of Canadians.

Using data from the 2016 General Social Survey on Canadians at Work and Home, today's release includes an infographic that highlights the proportion of people who play sports, the most popular sports in Canada and the benefits Canadians derive from participating in sports.

Foreign-born men more likely to participate in sports than Canadian-born men

Men are nearly twice as likely as women to participate in sports. Furthermore, men born outside Canada are more likely to do so than men born in Canada.

In 2016, 72% of foreign-born men and 61% of Canadian-born men said they participated in sports regularly. In contrast, 39% of women born in Canada and 28% of women born outside of Canada said they participated in sports regularly.

Hockey is most popular

In 2016, the five most popular sports in Canada were ice hockey, golf, soccer, running and basketball.

Most Canadians aged 15 and older participated in sport activities for recreation (86%), while 14% played sports competitively.

Among the reasons given for playing sports, 71% of Canadians said they did so for fun, recreation and relaxation; 69% for physical health and fitness; 51% to get a sense of achievement and skill development; 45% as a family activity; and 35% to meet new friends and acquaintances.


The infographic "Sports for fun and fitness" is now available as part of Statistics Canada — Infographics (Catalogue number11-627-M).

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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