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Can J Public Health. 2006 Jul-Aug;97(4):271-6.

Physical activity and ethnicity: evidence from the Canadian Community Health Survey.

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  • 1Health Statistics Division, Statistics Canada, Ottawa, ON.



A large proportion of the Canadian population lives a sedentary lifestyle. Few data are available describing the physical activity behaviours among specific ethnic groups in Canada, so the purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between ethnicity and the level of self-reported physical activity.


Pooled data from cycles 1.1 (2000/01) and 2.1 (2003) of the cross-sectional Canadian Community Health Survey (ages 20-64 yrs; N = 171,513) were used for this study. Weighted prevalences of self-reported leisure-time moderate (> or = 1.5 kcal x kg(-1) day(-1) (kkd)); moderate to high (> or = 3 kkd) and high physical activity (> or = 6 kkd) were calculated, and multiple logistic regression models were used to quantify the odds of being physically active across ethnic groups, after adjustment for several covariates (White referent group).


The rank order of prevalence of being moderately physically active by ethnicity was: White (49%), Other (48%), NA Aboriginal (47%), Latin American (40%), East/Southeast Asian (39%), Black (38%), West Asian/Arab (36%), South Asian (34%). Aboriginal men and women had the highest prevalences of being physically active at > or = 3 kkd (M = 32%, F = 22%) while East/Southeast Asian (19%) and East Asian/Arab men (19%), and South Asian women (12%) had the lowest prevalences. After accounting for covariates, Aboriginal men were at elevated odds of being physically active compared to Whites (> or = 3 kkd, OR=1.6, p < 0.05; > or = 6 kkd, OR = 2.7, p < 0.05). Only 7% and 3% of Canadian men and women, respectively, were active at > or = 6 kkd.


These results suggest that the prevalence of physically active Canadian adults varies by ethnicity. Strategies to promote physical activity and prevent physical inactivity should consider these findings.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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