Only a third of teenagers met physical activity requirements during start of COVID-19's second wave: StatCan
TORONTO -- Teenagers reported engaging in less physical activity than normal during the start of COVID-19’s second wave in the fall of 2020, although older adults saw a slight boost during the same timeframe, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.
The report, which was published Friday, looked at which age groups met the Canadian physical activity recommendations in fall 2020 as compared to fall 2018, long before the pandemic.
It found that the only age group that experienced a drop was youth aged 12-17. In 2018, half of youth in this age group met the physical recommendations, but in 2020, only 37.2 per cent met them.
StatCan believes pandemic school closures and the lack of physical activity through organized sports and other types of recreation are some of explanations for this dip.
There was no overall change in the percentage of adults aged 18-64 who met the physical recommendations, but seniors 65+ saw an increase in their physical activity during the pandemic, with 40 per cent meeting the physical requirements compared to 35 per cent in 2018.
The data comes from the Canadian Community Health Survey, which asks questions on physical activity to assess how closely respondents are to achieving the official recommendations set out for physical activity in the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines.
In the survey, youth were asked to report on four sources of physical activity: activity from transporting themselves from place to place (walking, biking, etc.), recreation, school classes such as gym class, and household chores.
Compared to the 2018 data, in 2020 youth who were surveyed reported “significantly fewer average daily minutes” of physical activity in the categories of school and recreation.
“Physical activity from recreation decreased from an average of 27.0 minutes per day in 2018 to 20.3 minutes in 2020, and the average time spent on physical activity at school fell from 24.7 to 13.0 minutes per day,” the report stated.
Adults who were 65 years of age and older saw the biggest increase in the active transportation section, from 8.5 minutes of daily activity in 2018 to 11.1 minutes, as well as in the section for household chores or work, increasing from 7 minutes per day to 10.3 minutes.
Adults aged 18-64 reported a mild uptick in recreational physical activity in 2020 as opposed to 2018, but the difference was merely by a couple minutes a day.
In general, adults who reported working from home in 2020 due to the pandemic also reported less minutes of daily physical activity overall than those who did not.
“However, workers who worked from home due to the pandemic reported more minutes of physical activity from recreation,” the report stated.
“This suggests that workers who worked from home due to the pandemic may have been able to transition to other forms of physical activity, such as at-home workouts or recreational walks in their neighbourhoods.”
The Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines were developed in 2020 to set age-specific guidelines for physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep.