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Research Framework

The Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute’s Physical Activity and Sport Monitoring Program (PASMP) is internationally recognized as a comprehensive surveillance system to guide and assess the population impact of policy in the area of physical activity, recreation, and sport.

The PASMP takes a population health approach to studying the levels of physical activity and sport for the population as a whole, and by looking within the context of everyday life. So, for example, this can mean studying how people get to work or school (e.g., active vs inactive transportation), types of activities done in the workplace (e.g., sitting, standing or lifting heavy objects), and the types of activities people participate in during their leisure time (e.g., whether they play soccer or do chores after school, whether they participate on a community hockey team, or if they like to garden or play outdoors with the kids on the weekend). Not only do we study the actual behaviours of being active or not, but we also examine the environments where people can be active. This can include home, at school, at work, or in the community, in order to see what factors in these important settings can help or prevent people from being active. Our research also explores the role that key sport and recreation organizations and governments have in impacting participation rates through their programs and policies. All of this research is collected and systematically analyzed and informs CFLRI’s key mission of knowledge creation.

The CFLRI’s PASMP achieves the task of knowledge creation by gathering information from many types of research studies as described in the CFLRI’s Research Framework in Figure 1, including:

Figure 1. Research Framework, Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute



Quantitative Data

Qualitative Research
Longitudinal studies Population studies (objective) Population studies (self-report) Setting-based studies Organizational studies Government studies

Areas of focus

Physical activity Steps, Adherence to guidelines Physical activity, Sport participation, Sedentary Community, Schools, Workplace Recreation, Sport Local (see setting), Provincial/Territorial, Federal Focus groups

Examples of factors collected

Health behaviours, factors associated with physical activity Factors associated with physical activity Individual, social, physical environment factors Policy, programming, awareness of strategies, information, barriers Policy, programming, awareness of strategies, information, barriers Policy, programming, awareness of strategies, information, barriers Formative work to identify experiences and barriers related to sport

Level of estimate produced

National, regional estimates National, regional, biannual provincial/
territorial estimates
National, regional, provincial/
territorial estimates
National, regional estimates National estimates National estimates

Guiding policy and strategies

The PASMP provides information to guide the development of strategies to increase physical activity levels and sport participation rates. The PASMP has evolved over time. Since the mid-1990s, physical activity and sport benchmark indicators were established to enable governments to be accountable for expenditures with respect to the outcomes and impacts achieved by the investment of public dollars in support of physical activity and sport. Since the 2000s, the CFLRI has been monitoring changes in these indicators to determine progress in increasing population levels, understanding key factors for setting policies and strategies for joint action by governments, and establish research priorities within governmental work plans.

Data from this surveillance system guides policy development by:

  • identifying key target groups;
  • tracking changes in factors influencing participation rates;
  • determining the impact of policies;
  • examining changes in policies and practices across various settings;
  • identifying equitable access of initiatives, services and opportunities, versus perceptions of level, actual use, and factors encouraging and restricting access;
  • detecting policy and research gaps; and
  • identifying new directions for action.