Regional Differences in the Leisure Physical Activity of Canadians: Testing Some Alternative Interpretations

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James E. Curtis University of Waterloo

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Barry D. McPherson Wilfrid Laurier University

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This paper presents the results of a multivariate analysis of the relationship between region and the extent of participation in sport and physical activities, employing data from a large (N=20,000+) survey of a national sample of Canadian adults. The region-activity relationship is one that has been suggested also by some U.S. studies; that is, the farther west the respondent’s place of residence, the more likely he or she is to report high rates of physical activity. For the U.S. results, a convenient and common interpretation has been that the more favorable climate for outdoor activities in the westerly states leads to higher activity. This interpretation is not adequate for the Canadian findings, however, because of the harsher winter climate in the western provinces. Therefore, we explore some alternative theoretical interpretations of the Canadian results. These involve the effects of regional differences in three types of factors: sociodemographic composition, socioeconomic profiles, and opportunity structures. Because these factors are shown in our analyses to have only small effects upon the region-activity relationship, we also include some proposals for still further avenues of analysis and interpretation of the regional differences.

Direct all correspondence to James E. Curtis, Departments of Kinesiology and Sociology, University of Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3G1 Canada.
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