Almost Three-in-Ten Canadians Completely Shunning Exercise

More than half of the country’s residents took action to maintain their fitness levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Vancouver, BC [February 24, 2023] – The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have had a detrimental effect on the physical fitness of some Canadians, a new Research Co. poll has found.

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults in Canada accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, 49% of Canadians say they met the recommended exercise guidelines “every week” or “most weeks” over the past three months.

During the pandemic, 48% of Canadians were able to exercise for at least 150 minutes “every week” or “most weeks”, while the proportion was significantly higher (55%) before the start of COVID-19.

“Prior to the pandemic, only 23% of Canadians—and 34% of those aged 55 and over—never met the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “In the past three months, the proportion has risen to 28% across the country and to 39% among the oldest adults.”

About three-in-ten Canadians (29%) followed workouts or routines online during the COVID-19 pandemic, while 18% acquired weightlifting equipment for their home (such as dumbbells), 17% took up a sport that did not require equipment (such as running or jogging), and 16% acquired a cardio machine for their home (such as an elliptical, treadmill or climber).

More than half of Canadians (53%) undertook at least one of these four actions during the pandemic. There are significant generational differences on this issue. While 75% of Canadians aged 18-to-34 took action to maintain their fitness levels, the proportion drops to 57% among those aged 35-to-54 and to 30% among those aged 55 and over.

One-in-five Canadians (20%) say their own personal situation when it comes to exercise and fitness is “better” now than before COVID-19, while the same proportion (20%) deem it worse and a majority (54%) claim it has not changed.

Canadians aged 18-to-34 are more likely to report an improvement in their fitness after the pandemic (28%) than their counterparts aged 35-to-54 (18%) and aged 55 and over (15%).

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted from February 16 to February 18, 2023, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error – which measures sample variability – is +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.

778.929.0490 [e]