Toronto does a poor job of getting kids active, so (surprise, surprise) Toronto kids aren’t active

Toronto does a poor job of getting kids active, so (surprise, surprise) Toronto kids aren’t active

A rare find these days: an active kid (Image: Incase)

A new report from Get Active Toronto (guess what they’re all about) says that 93 per cent of local youth don’t get the minimum amount of exercise they need on a daily basis. The reasons behind the lack of young folks’ physical activity aren’t that difficult to understand [PDF], but what’s surprising is that they’re a problem in a city like Toronto. We take a look at three such surprises after the jump.

1. Ethnicity
The most diverse city in Canada ought to do better, but apparently, children of new Canadians are roughly one third less likely to get their daily exercise than children of Canada-born Canadians. Which, really, is all a very polite way of saying that extracurricular sports are still—according to StatsCan data—Stuff White People Like.

2. Gender
Boys are still much, much more likely to participate in sports than girls, and the fact that currently only 10 per cent of Toronto’s sports programs are co-ed can’t be helping. The equation is slightly more complicated than it seems, because in certain cultures girls don’t actually want co-ed sports—they want all-girls teams. Whether the TDSB can square that circle is a fair question, but it’s hard to imagine that the share of co-ed sports couldn’t be doubled without running into major problems.

3. Transit
Apparently, nothing can escape the city’s inability to create sensible ways for people to get around. According to the report, kids who live one or two kilometres away from their school largely don’t walk anymore. It’s no surprise that the most walkable part of the city (the downtown core) correlates with best fitness results, while the most distant suburbs (i.e. Ford Nation) correlate with the worst.

Our take-away from the report is that, basically, if Toronto doesn’t do a better job of getting kids active (say, with co-ed teams, outreach to new Canadians and thinking more about walkable and bikeable neighbourhoods) then—shocker!—kids won’t be active on their own. And nobody blame the kids. It was hard enough to get them to play sports after the invention of the Nintendo; now they have iPads. It’s amazing they’re not adorable spheres already.

2011 Report on Physical Activity (PDF) [Get Active Toronto]