Ottawans: StatCan wants to test your fitness levels (and there's something in it for you)

 

 
 
 
 
Statistics Canada wants to get a sense of how fit we are as Canadians, and are going to great lengths – including physical fitness testing and in-depth interviews – to find out.
 

Statistics Canada wants to get a sense of how fit we are as Canadians, and are going to great lengths – including physical fitness testing and in-depth interviews – to find out.

Get ready to be poked, prodded and pushed, Ottawa.

Statistics Canada wants to get a sense of how fit we are as Canadians, and are going to great lengths – including physical fitness testing and in-depth interviews – to find out.

Starting Jan. 3, a total of 500 area residents will take part in the Canada Health Measures Survey (CHMS) to generate data that will help Health Canada, as well as public health planners and the Heart and Stroke Foundation, with their work.

What sets this study apart from previous health surveys is the depth of data – a broad leap from yesterday’s simple survey questions to actual testing in a clinic.

In Phase 1 of the program, StatCan personnel will visit participants in their home to conduct interviews on their nutrition, fitness and lifestyle habits, including alcohol and tobacco use. In Phase 2, volunteers will visit a mobile clinic set up at Tunney’s Pasture near Holland Avenue. Here they will be measured for height, weight and circumference (neck and waist), and undergo blood and urine tests as well as fitness drills.

“One of the nice things about the survey, you get a battery of tests done you wouldn’t get elsewhere, even from a visit to your doctor,” said Janine Clarke, unit head of the CHMS. Some of the results will be handed to participants as they walk out the door, other test results will be delivered as they are processed.

The candidates will range in age from three to 79, a fairly even blend of children and adults, males and females. Household interviews will last between an hour and 90 minutes. Children’s physical testing takes about 45 minutes and for adults two hours or more.

The range of tests might have participants thinking they are training for the Olympic Games. There are bone scans, vision tests, jumping and flexibility assessments, blood pressure measurements, a grip test to gauge muscular strength and a step-by-step procedure to assess cardiovascular fitness.

The step test, also known as the Modified Canadian Aerobic Fitness Test (mCAFT), puts participants through their paces – up and down two steps for three-minute intervals.

The surveys began in 2007 and this is the sixth cycle of testing. Each cycle has lasted about two years and involved 15 to 18 different test sites around the country. The newest participants were recently invited by letter to take part.

The incentive to participate includes personal data that could be informative, along with the broader aspect of helping create a snapshot of national health.

“There’s a lot of new information we’ve gotten from the survey over the years that gives us a good picture of the health of Canadians,” Clarke said. “This is quite different from questionnaires that have been taken over the years.”

Some of the data has already been published in StatCan journals. For example, earlier this year, the data was presented in chart form to illustrate physical activity for Canadian children.

The data showed that between 2007 and 2015, physical activity levels stayed fairly constant over that time. Activity decreased with age and boys tended to be more physically active than girls.

Only one-third of children (five to 17) were receiving 60-plus minutes of daily exercise and not surprisingly, parental activity and time outdoors boosted child activity numbers.

wscanlan@postmedia.com
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Statistics Canada wants to get a sense of how fit we are as Canadians, and are going to great lengths – including physical fitness testing and in-depth interviews – to find out.
 

Statistics Canada wants to get a sense of how fit we are as Canadians, and are going to great lengths – including physical fitness testing and in-depth interviews – to find out.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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