Printer-friendly version


Canada is a country at the forefront of surveillance in physical activity and maintains a long-standing and established national surveillance system to examine population levels of physical activity and sport participation, along with the determinants of activity. Comprehensive monitoring of physical activity was established by the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute (CFLRI) in the early 1980’s. A Monitoring Program Advisory Committee made up of researchers and federal, provincial, and territorial government representatives oversee changes to methods and are involved in knowledge transfer and exchange related to many of the surveys.

Longitudinal Survey

1981, Canada Fitness Survey

  • Surveillance started with this study
  • Purpose to measure the relationships between physical activity and fitness from a health outcomes perspective
  • Study incorporated objectively measured fitness and body composition and subjectively measured determinants of physical activity through self-report questionnaires
  • Collected nationally representative data on over 20,000 Canadians aged 7 and older

1988, Campbell Survey on Well-Being

  • Longitudinal follow-up was initiated 7 years later
  • Used similar principles as the 1981 study, incorporating objectively measured fitness and body composition with subjectively measured determinants of physical activity through self-report questionnaires

2003-2004 Physical Activity Longitudinal Study

  • Survey included a third follow up of participants and their families
  • Study consisted of a self-report survey component only (no fitness and body composition measures)

Cross Sectional Surveys

2005-2015, CANPLAY

  • Collects objectively measured data on the physical activity levels of children and youth throughout the waking day by means of pedometers
  • Roughly 3,000 to 10,000 children and youth aged 5 to 19 are recruited annually into the study
  • A telephone-based survey is used for recruitment and for a brief telephone survey (computer assisted telephone interviewing)
  • If respondents consent to participate in the pedometer portion of the study, they are sent a pedometer package by mail
  • Participants are asked to wear a pedometer for 7 days and to log their steps daily

1995-2015, Physical Activity Monitor

  • The surveys are national, random-digit dialling, telephone-based surveys of representative population samples
  • Typically conducted on an annual basis
  • Surveys are cross-sectional so associations, not causal relationships are determined. As such, the data are applicable to surveillance and hypothesis generating, but are not applicable for assessing cause and effect
  • Sample sizes range from approximately 4,000 to 11,000 depending on the year collected
  • Themes of collection rotate vary by survey due to the number of indicators that are collected within the Monitoring Program

Sport Monitor

  • Studies are national, random-digit dialling telephone-based surveys of representative population samples
  • These surveys are typically conducted roughly every four years and data collection covers a two year span
  • Surveys are cross-sectional in nature so associations, not causal relationships, may be determined
  • Sample sizes of the Sport Monitors are roughly 4,000
  • Sport participation measures have been regularly included in the Physical Activity Monitors since 2004, however, a broad range of sport related indicators are included in the Sport Monitors

Setting-based Surveys

  • Studies are designed to assess the current situation with respect to policy, practice, and opportunities to support physical activity of Canadians in key settings (municipalities, schools and workplaces)
  • Surveys typically consist of a mailed, self-completed questionnaire. Mailings are followed by reminders
  • Sample sizes can range from roughly 4,000 to 10,000 depending on the setting and survey