FAQs

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Q1. For survey participants.
If you have questions about specific surveys, please click here.

Q2. How costly is physical inactivity?
Canada’s Health Care spending was estimated at $121.4 billion dollars (10% of the Gross Domestic Product of Canada) in 2003, up from $84 billion spent in 1998. The total cost of illness in Canada in 1998 is estimated to be $159.4 billion: $83.9 billion (52.7%) in direct costs and $75.5 billion (47.3%) in indirect costs. Cardiovascular diseases is the most costly diagnostic accounting for 11.6% ($18.5 billion) of the total cost of illness. The economic burden of illness for Ontario is $56.6 billion, Quebec $36.1 billion, and British Columbia at $22.2 billion,  account for approximately 70% of the economic burden of illness in Canada in 1998. For more information, see the following three benchmarks reports: 2002 Physical Activity, Cost of Physical Inactivity, 1997 Physical Activity Benchmarks (p. 31), Foundation for Joint Action: Reducing Physical Inactivity (p. 21) and Increasing Physical Activity: Creating Effective Communications (p. 19 and 20). See also our Research File summaries entitled The Burden of Inactivity (98-01), Health Care Savings (97-02), An Economic Case for Physical Activity (95-03), and Activity Reduces the Cost of Heart Disease (94-01), as well as our Lifestyle Tips articles entitled Health care savings and Save health care — Take a mini-vacation!


Q3. Physical Activity Levels of Canadians?
Please visit our Adult Section or Kids Section.

Q4. How many Canadians are overweight? Are we more overweight than before?
Current estimates from the 2000/01 Canadian Community Health Survey indicate that 33% of Canadians aged 20 + have a body mass index over 25 and are thus considered overweight. The trend is toward increased overweight: 26% of women aged 20-64 were considered overweight in 2000, compared with 14% in 1985. Among men, 40% were overweight in 2000, compared with 22% in 1985. For more information, see our 2002 Physical Activity Monitor, Progress in Prevention bulletin no. 15 entitled Body Mass Index. See also the obesity fact sheet that accompanied our May 12, 2000, press release, and which contains data from the 1996/97 National Population Health Survey.

Q5. Where can I find statistics about eating habits?
For information on how many Canadians eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables, please refer to the 2002 Physical Activity Monitor.  The Institute collected some statistics on eating habits in its 1988 Campbell Survey on Well-Being in Canada.

Q6. How do I go about being more active?
Start slowly and build up. If you're not regularly active, just do a little more, a little more often. Walk part way to work. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Add up your activity throughout the day in 10-minute bouts. Try for 30-60 minutes of light to moderate activity. To gain more insight and tips on being more active, browse our: Adult Section, Kids Section, Lifestyle Tips, and get your copy of Canada's Physical Activity Guide to Healthy, Active Living.

Q7. Is it true that physical inactivity is on par with smoking?
According to the Canadian Community Health Survey, 2000-01, 22% of Canadians adults, 15 years of age and older, smoke daily, whereas current estimates of physical inactivity from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) are more than double that of tobacco use. Recent research in the United States reveal that although smoking remains the leading cause of mortality in America (435 000 deaths; 18.1% of total US deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity (400 000 deaths; 16.6%) may soon overtake tobacco as the leading cause of death in that country (Mokdad, A.H., Marks, J.S., Stroup, D.F., & Gerberding, J.L. (2004). Special Communication: Actual Causes of Death in the United States, 2000. JAMA; 291:1238-1245). (Sent to translation) In a 1996 paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 276, No. 3, p. 205-210), Steven Blair et al. calculated the "relative risks of mortality from all causes" for a number of conditions. They found that the 20% least fit people had a relative risk of 2.10, close to the 1.99 for current or recent smokers. This means that the 20% least fit people were twice as likely as fit people to die prematurely from all causes. Likewise, current or recent smokers were twice as likely as non smokers to die prematurely from all causes. This study does NOT evaluate the "magnitude" of the health risks of smoking against the health risks of physical inactivity. In fact, no study has yet investigated the magnitude of the health hazards of smoking vs. inactivity. What we do know is that 56% of Canadians are not active enough for targeted public health benefits, roughly 22% smoke, and both behaviours are harmful.

Q8. Where can I find information on physical activity injuries?
Surveys conducted in Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta in the 1990s provide detailed information about the incidence and nature of sport and recreation injuries requiring treatment by a health professional. A summary of these surveys' results is available in the Research File summary entitled Injury Prevention (96-10). For more information, contact the authors of these surveys: Claude Goulet in Quebec (819 371-6140), Peter McLaren in Ontario (416 314-7204), and John Spence in Alberta (780 427-6949).

Q9. What information do you have on the fitness industry?
You can find much information on the physical activity levels, preferences, barriers, location, expenditures, etc. of Canadians from our Physical Activity Monitor, a telephone survey we have been conducting annually since 1995. Information on physical activity types and levels is updated every year — click here for the most recent. Other topics such as barriers, expenditures and attitudes are probed at longer intervals. So check our 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000 surveys if you don't find your topic in the most recent survey. All our publications are available online in PDF format.

Q10. Where can I find information on fitness clubs in Canada?
You can find this information by contacting Statistics Canada and requesting a custom extraction of all companies with SIC 9659 (the code for fitness clubs) from their Business Registrar database. Statistics Canada's main number is 613 951-8116.

Q11. Where can I find validity and reliability studies of your survey instruments?
Our main question on physical activity is based on the Minnesota Leisure-Time Physical Activity questionnaire. The test-retest reliability data for this question was published in 1986 by Aaron R. Folsom, David R. Jacobs Jr, Carl J. Caspersen, Orlando Gomez-Marin and Joan Knudsen in the Journal of Chronic Diseases, Vol. 39, No. 7, pp. 505-511. For validity and reliability tests related to the Canadian Standardized Test of Fitness used in our household surveys of 1981 and 1988, contact the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.

Q12. Where can I find fitness tests for adults and children?
Contact the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, which is responsible for publishing and updating the Canadian Standardized Test of Fitness.

Q13. Where can I find posters and pamphlets on physical activity?
Our educational resources for the public are limited to the Lifestyle Tips series, which is a web-based product. We do not have promotional products. Health Canada and the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology produced the colourful Canada's Physical Activity Guide to Healthy, Active Living. A number of private-sector organizations produce physical activity posters, among them the Victoria-based 3S Fitness Group (604 598-1426), the Ontario-based Directional Learning (519-846-5397), and Activetics (1-800-565-8678).

Q14. Where can I study to become a physical activity specialist?
Consult our list of universities involved in physical activity research and contact the universities directly.

Q15. How can I become a member of your network?
The Institute is not a membership-based organization. But rest assured: all our new publications are immediately posted online and can be downloaded free of charge from our publication list. We therefore invite you to visit our site regularly to discover our latest findings or register to our enews.

Q16. How may calories do we burn in specific activities?
Here's an excellent reference on calories expended in various activities: Katch, F.I., Katch, V.L., and McArdle, W.D. The Complete Guide to Energy Expenditure. Fitness Technologies Press, June, 1996. You can order directly from Fitness Technologies, Inc. Send check or money order drawn on US bank to Fitness Technologies, 1132 Lincoln Ave. Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Cost is (US) $11.95. First Class shipping to Canada is an additional $4.25.

Q17. Where can I find information on employee fitness programs or workplace fitness programs?The Institute published two reports based on the 1992 National Workplace Survey. One deals with physical activity programs, the other with health issues more generally. On contract from Health Canada, the Institute also produced a series of booklets on three key aspects of workplace life: Absenteeism, Influencing employee health, and Juggling work and family. These three booklets can be browsed in their entirety on Public Health Agency of Canada Web site. For other information about physical activity in the workplace, see the Business Case for Active Living at Work at activelivingatwork.com