Physical activity during leisure time 2008

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The health benefits of physical activity include a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, depression, stress, and anxiety.

The data presented here refer only to activities during leisure time and do not take account of energy expended at work, in transportation, or doing housework.

In 2008, 50.6% of Canadians were at least moderately active during their leisure time. This would be equivalent to walking at least 30 minutes a day or taking an hour-long exercise class at least three times a week.

The most popular leisure-time activity was walking: almost 70% reported walking during leisure time in the past three months. Gardening, home exercise, swimming, bicycling, and jogging were also popular.

Canadians aged 12 to 19 had the highest rate of being at least moderately active (77.2% for males and 60.9% for females).

After age 20, the percentage of women who were at least moderately active stabilized at about 47%; at age 65 or older the figure dropped to 36.5%. Among men, the percentage who were at least moderately active leveled off around 49% after age 35 and remained at that level through their senior years.

Chart 1


Chart 1: Percentage at least moderately active in leisure time, by age group and sex, household population aged 12 or older, Canada, 2008

Only British Columbia (58.7%) and Alberta (53.4%) had leisure-time activity rates that were significantly higher than the national average in 2008. Rates in Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Ontario and the Northwest Terriories were below the Canadian rate, and rates in all other provinces and territories were about the same as the national average.


Additional information from the Canadian Community Health Survey is available from CANSIM table 105-0501.


Physically active Canadians. Gilmour H. 2007; 18(3): 45-65.
Screen time among Canadian adults: A profile. Shields M, Tremblay MS. 2008; 19(2): 31-43.
Sedentary behaviour and obesity among Canadian adults. Shields M, Tremblay MS. 2008; 19(2): 19-30.

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