3.4.2 Percentage of Canadian children and youth aged 12 to 17 years who are moderately physically active or active, by household income, Canada, 2010-2013

Q1 - Lowest Q5 - Highest
Household Income 69.5 79.6

Note: Physical activity, active or moderately active – Respondents classified as “active” or “moderately active”, based on their responses to questions about the frequency, nature and duration of their participation in leisure time physical activity.

Source: CICH graphic created using data adapted from Towards a Healthier Canada – Health Inequalities Data Table, Health Inequalities Data Tool, A joint initiative of the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Pan-Canadian Public Health Network, Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute of Health Information. Data from Canadian Community Health Survey, 2010-2013.

In 2010-2013, Canadian children living in households with the highest income levels were more likely to be classified as physically active or moderately physically active compared to those living in the lowest income households.

This was 80% versus 70%.

There are many barriers that families and children living in low income face when trying to be physically active. They may not have the time – parents are often working long hours in precarious jobs to pay the bills, as well as the usual demands of caring for their children.1 Local government recreation departments are often the main providers of physical activity opportunities in communities, however, they charge for their services and often ask people to prove that they need help to pay, which is a humiliating experience. They often do not work with other service providers that are trusted by low-income individuals and families. It is not often that low income community members are involved in decision-making or planning programs – therefore, they may not meet their needs. Programming may not be flexible enough to meet their needs – for example, drop-in or loosely organized activities may suit some. Many times people living in low income do not know about the programs. Transportation to activities can be a problem. Many families living in poverty live in neighbourhoods that do not have outside spaces where children can engage in active play safely.2

1Spinney, Jamie, and Hugh Millward. “Time and Money: A New Look at Poverty and the Barriers to Physical Activity in Canada.” Social Indicators Research, vol. 99, no. 2, 2010, pp. 341–356.www.jstor.org/stable/40927596
2BC Recreation and Parks Association and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon. Why Don’t People Particpate? Everybody Active Information Sheet 4. http://www.physicalactivitystrategy.ca/pdfs/Why_Dont_People_Participate.pdf