The 2021 Adult Report Card

There’s no doubt about it: COVID-19 had a significant impact on our lifestyles. As the world around us changed, so did the daily routines of many Canadians. Gyms closed, workplaces shut down, and we were encouraged to stay inside as much as possible. Suddenly, we started spending much more time at home and a lot less time moving around.

Ever wondered how other Canadian adults spend their time? The 2021 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Adults takes a close look at how much time Canadians spend being active. Here’s what the report shows:

What Is the Report Card?

This program, which was created by ParticipACTION, measures how active the average Canadian is. It gives an overview of how much time Canadians spend being sedentary and what they’re doing to stay active. These findings are divided into four categories:

  • Individual characteristics
  • Daily behaviours
  • Spaces, places, and cultural norms
  • Strategies and investments

For more information about how the report card is calculated, you can visit the Moving Toward a Better Normal information page.

What Does the Report Card Talk About?

We all experienced disruptions and lifestyle changes as a result of COVID-19. The 2021 report measures how Canadian’s lifestyles have changed over the last year. The main behaviours that the report looked at include:

Light Physical Activity

When you’re performing light physical activity, you engage your body, but without breaking a sweat or elevating your heart rate too much. It’s a low-level way of burning energy and getting your body moving. Examples of light physical activities include going for a walk, working while standing, or doing housework.

Here’s what the report found about light physical activity in 2021:

  • 56% of adults (ages 18-79) get 3 hours of light physical activity each day.
  • When we break down those statistics by gender: 58% of men and 53% of women spend 3 hours doing light physical activity a day.

Sedentary Behaviours

First, let’s define what this term means: Sedentary behaviour is any time spent sitting, laying down, or expending little energy. In 2021, all our plans were cancelled because of the pandemic, from weekly fitness classes to walks to and from work. As we spent more time at home, we started relying more and more on screens for entertainment. We all need a break sometimes, but the 2021 report found that the majority of Canadians (over 60%) are spending too much time in front of their TVs or phone screens. We need to find ways to move more and sit less. The report card found that:

  • 12% of adults (ages 18-79) reported over 8 hours of sedentary time a day.
  • 50.1% reported more time spent sitting.
  • 62.8% reported greater use of screens during leisure time.

Active Transportation

Driving might be the most convenient way to get around, but it’s also the least physically engaging. Instead of driving, if possible, consider using active transportation. For example, we can walk or cycle to work or a program, the grocery store, or visit a friend. On top of the physical benefits, spending more time outdoors improves our mental health, too. A breath of fresh air paired with physical activity helps us reduce anxiety in addition to helping with our heart and bone health, muscular strength, while interacting with nature. interact with nature. How many Canadians are practicing active transportation? Here’s what the report indicates:
  • 7% of adults walk or cycle to work.
  • 39% of adults walk part of the way to work/school/general transport.
  • 12% report that they cycle all or part of the way to get around.


So, how did Canadians score on the 2021 Adult Report Card? Given the challenges of the pandemic, some areas were lacking, while others showed improvements over previous years. The reports are in. Let’s take a look:

Light Physical Activity
Sedentary Behaviours
Active Transportation

Beyond these key grades, the report also found the following about other behaviours:

Total Daily Steps
Muscle Strengthening Activities
Sports Participation

We’ve started to adjust to the “new normal” that our world is today. Now, it’s time to adjust our lifestyles, too. There’s a lot of room for improvement in the latest report card. By leading more active lifestyles, older Canadians can improve their physical, social, and mental well-being.  It’s never too late to start. Start slowly if you’re new to physical activity, and consult your physician before engaging.

How To Stay Active in 2022

Wondering what the next step is? At Active Aging in Manitoba, we host several annual events that encourage older adults to stay active, including the MB 55+ Games, Active Aging Week, educational webinars, and more. We help older adults connect with their communities to lead healthier lifestyles. For more information about active aging, contact our office today!

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