COVID-19 Significantly Affects Exercise Routines in Canada

The proportion of Canadians who meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity fell to 29% during the pandemic.

Vancouver, BC [June 16, 2020] – Half of Canadians are having a tougher time exercising due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, 49% of Canadians say their physical activity routines were affected by the lockdown and they had to avoid specific actions.

A third of Canadians (33%) say they had to stop going to a gym or community centre since the start of the pandemic, while one-in-five (21%) had to stop going to a pool for swimming.

More than one-in-ten Canadians say they had to stop participating in an organized sports league (15%), had to stop going to a yoga studio (13%) or had to stop participating in pick-up sports that are not part of a league (12%).

“More than half of men in Canada (53%) say their exercise routine had to be modified because of the lockdown,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Majorities of Canadians who live in Ontario (56%), British Columbia (54%) and Alberta (51%) were affected.”

Just over two-in-five Canadians (42%) took action in order to exercise differently during the COVID-19 pandemic—including 45% of women, 48% of Ontarians and 70% of those aged 18-to-34.

One-in-four Canadians (25%) say they followed workouts or routines online, while 17% took up a sport that does not require equipment, such as running or jogging.

Smaller proportions of Canadians acquired weightlifting equipment (12%) or cardio machines (9%) for their home.

The poll also asked Canadians about their exercise routines before and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Across the country, 36% of Canadians acknowledged meeting the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines—accumulating at least two and a half hours of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week—every week before the pandemic started.

The proportion of Canadians who were able to meet the guidelines was higher among Canadians aged 18-to-34 (38%), Canadians aged 35-to-54 (also 38%), Ontarians (also 38%), Albertans (37%) and British Columbians (36%).

When asked about their physical activity after the pandemic began, only 29% of Canadians acknowledged that they have met the guidelines every week.

The proportion of Canadians who are able to currently meet the exercise guidelines dropped in Ontario (from 38% to 30%), Alberta (from 37% to 31%), British Columbia (from 36% to 29%) and Quebec (from 33% to 24%).

More than one-in-four Canadians (27%) say they never meet the recommended guidelines for physical activity. up from 23% before the lockdown.

Results are based on an online study conducted from June 8 to June 10, 2020, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Find our full data set here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:
Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.