The economic impact of reducing physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour

It’s not enough to be physically active — limiting the number of waking hours spent in a sedentary state is also important.

The findings in this briefing from The Conference Board of Canada, the first in the research series “Moving Ahead: Healthy Active Living in Canada,” build a strong case for action on the part of the public, government, and employers.

Canadians are not only physically inactive; they also spend much of their time in a sedentary state. Even small enhancements to physical activity levels and a reduction in sedentary behaviour can create positive implications on the economy, government finances, and labour force productivity.


  • by getting 10 per cent of Canadians with suboptimal levels of physical activity to exercise more and reduce sedentary behaviour — starting in 2015 — GDP will increase by nearly $1.6 billion by 2040
  • there would also be a cumulative $2.6 billion reduction in health care spending on:
    • hypertension
    • diabetes
    • heart disease
    • cancer
  • employers will reap the benefits from reductions in:
    • staff turnover
    • short-term disability costs
    • absenteeism rates
Read the full survey results for more findings.