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The Globe and Mail

Statscan issues dismal report on Canadians' activity levels

Only 15 per cent of Canadian adults and 7 per cent of young people get the recommended amount of exercise, a new Statistics Canada report reveals.

The numbers seem especially dismal when considering how much exercise guidelines suggest Canadians get.

Under new guidelines being adopted in Canada, adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes - or 2.5 hours - of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity over the course of seven days.

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Young people aged 5 to 17 should accumulate an hour of exercise a day.

But instead, adults spend 70 per cent of their time awake, or 9.5 hours on average a day, in "sedentary pursuits," which likely span the realm of watching TV or spending time online.

Young people spend about 62 per cent of their waking hours, or nearly nine hours a day, sedentary. Among teenagers, that number surpasses nine hours a day.

Only about five per cent of adults accumulate the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity a week on a regular basis, which works out to at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise at least five days a week.

Men typically accumulate more physical activity minutes than women, Statistics Canada says. For instance, among adults aged 20 to 39, men accumulate 27 minutes of recommended physical activity a day, compared to 21 minutes for women. Obese men in this age group get 19 minutes a day, while women only get 13 minutes.

The findings are part of Statistics Canada's Canadian Health Measures Survey, a joint venture with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada that is "the most comprehensive survey involving direct physical measures ever carried out in Canada," according to the report.

Nearly 3,000 adults and more than 1,600 young people wore accelerometers for one week to measure their activity physical activity levels.

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Previous surveys of this kind have simply relied on respondents reporting their levels of physical activity, which could increase the chance of inaccurate results.

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