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Initial Report on Public Health
Physical Activity Index
Narrative

The physical activity index indicator estimates the age-standardized proportion of the population age 12 years and older by level of energy expenditure in the categories active and moderately active in their leisure time physical activity.

Physical activity directly benefits a person’s physical and mental health. People who exercise regularly are less susceptible to a number of chronic health conditions. Evidence also suggests that regular physical activity can contribute to improved mental health. 72

Physical inactivity is among the leading contributors to a wide range of illnesses and conditions including:

  • coronary heart disease and stroke
  • type 2 diabetes
  • certain types of cancer
  • osteoporosis 73

A physically active lifestyle among the population will substantially reduce the burden of disease, death, and disability in Ontario. 74, 75

Childhood obesity is a serious concern in Canada and internationally. Over the past 25 years, obesity rates among children and youth have nearly tripled. Not only are children eating too much high-energy, high-fat food, but they also are more sedentary. Childhood obesity can result in serious medical problems, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and liver disease as well psychological difficulties. Most children do not outgrow their weight problem and many continue to gain weight as they age. 76

The increased prevalence of overweight/obese young people and adults, combined with only moderate levels of physical activity, is a public health issue. To address these issues, the Ministry of Health Promotion launched ACTIVE2010 Ontario’s Sport and Physical Activity Strategy in October 2004. 77

Public health programs and services use a population health approach to promote healthy behaviours that improve the quality of life and help reduce the number of Ontarians seeking diagnostic services and medical care. Public health initiatives promote a healthier Ontario by:

  • Promoting health at each age and stage of life, focusing first on children and youth
  • Influencing the social determinants of health - the social and economic factors that shape our health
  • Engaging partners to share the responsibility for a healthier Ontario
  • Improving the health of those most at risk
  • Removing barriers to healthy, active living so Ontarians have more opportunities to enjoy good health (i.e., bicycle/walking trails)

In 2007, 50% of people in Ontario age 12 years and older reported participating in physical activities in which they were active or moderately active. Based on 36 public health units in Ontario, the highest proportion was 64% and the lowest was 43% of people age 12 years and older who reported participating in physical activities in which they were active or moderately active.

Indicator Definition

Definition:

The physical activity index indicator estimates the age-standardized proportion of the population age 12 years and older by level of energy expenditure in the categories active and moderately active in their leisure time physical activity.

  • Active = respondents who average 3.0+ kcal/kg/day of energy expenditure
  • Moderately active = respondents who average 1.5-2.9 kcal/kg/day
  • Inactive = respondents with energy expenditure levels less than 1.5 kcal/kg/day

Data Source(s):

Numerator: Canadian Community Health Survey 2007, Statistics Canada, Ontario Share File distributed by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
Denominator: Canadian Community Health Survey 2007, Statistics Canada, Ontario Share File distributed by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

Formula:

Weighted number of respondents age 12+ years by physical activity index categories active and moderately active

Weighted number of respondents age 12+ years
 
x 100

Notes:

  • Numerator: PACDPAI= active (1) or moderately active (2)
  • Denominator: PACDPAI= active (1) and moderately active (2) and inactive (3)
  • Excluded not stated responses (9) from denominator
  • Age groups in years used for direct age-standardization: 12-19, 20-34, 35-49, 50-64, 65-74, 75+
  • Direct age-standardization to the 1991 Canadian population
  • Respondents were asked about their participation in various types of physical activities in the previous three-month period, as well as the frequency and duration of each activity

72 Jones M, O’Beney, C. Promoting mental health through physical activity: examples from practice. J Ment Health Prom. 2004;3(1):39-47.
73 Jones M, O’Beney, C. Promoting mental health through physical activity: examples from practice. J Ment Health Prom. 2004;3(1):39-47.
74 Katzmarzyk PT, Gledhill N, Shephard RJ. The economic burden of physical inactivity in Canada. CMAJ. 2000 Nov 28;163(11):1435-40.
75 Janssen I, Lam M, Katzmarzyk PT. Influence of overweight and obesity on physician costs in adolescents and adults in Ontario, Canada. Obes Rev. 2009;10(1):51-7.
76 Herman KM, Craig CL, Gauvin L, Katzmarzyk PT. Tracking of obesity and physical activity from childhood to adulthood: The Physical Activity Longitudinal Study. Int J Pediatr Obes. 2008 Dec 15:1-8.
77 Ministry of Health Promotion. ACTIVE 2010: Ontario's sport and physical activity strategy. Toronto, ON. Queen's Printer for Ontario; 2005. Available from: http://www.mhp.gov.on.ca/English/sportandrec/physical_activity/active2010-strategy-e.pdf.

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