What is Physical Literacy

Physical Literacy is:

  • The motivation + confidence + physical competence + knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.
  •  A LIFELONG JOURNEY, essential to an active, healthy life.

Watch the Introduction to Physical Literacy video

What you need to know about physical literacy*:

  • Early development of physical literacy is linked to later success in sports and activity.
  • Physical literacy provides confidence to apply a set of skills to a new activity or sport.
  • Without physical literacy, many people become frustrated and withdraw from sport and activities.
  • Physical literacy is the gateway to physical activity, which provides many benefits like improved physical and emotional wellbeing, cognitive ability, and good health.
  • Kids need the opportunity to develop skills in a number of environments over the span of their childhood.
  • Like any other life “skill”, physical literacy can be improved if practiced over time.
  • Adults who did not develop the building blocks in childhood can still develop physical literacy by pursuing a variety of physical activities throughout life.
  • There are benefits to continuously practicing these skills, especially for seniors – i.e. increased independence, decreased risk of falls, etc.

* This information was developed by ParticipACTION with support from Sport for Life and the RBC Learn to Play Project, an initiative funded by RBC and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Physical Literacy Skills: 

  • Are important for everyone, regardless of ability, gender, age, race or weight
  • Include fundamental movement skills ( i.e. running, catching, kicking) and the ABC’s of athleticism (agility, balance, coordination & speed)
  • Should be practiced regularly so abilities don’t decline
  • Can be applied in a variety of environments: in water, on ice, indoors, outdoors and even through the air!  
  • Help ensure lifelong health

Statistics on Inactivity

The more physically literate we are, the more likely we are to be active throughout our lives. Recent surveys show that Canadians of all ages are not getting enough exercise and physical activity in their daily lives.

On the North Shore

  • 17% of students aged 12-17 met their daily activity guidelines (1hr/day) on the North Shore (2015, McCreary Adolescent Health Survey)
  • 61% of students aged 18 or older reached their daily activity guidelines (150min/week) on the North Shore (2015, McCreary Adolescent Health Survey)
  • 52% of adults 18yrs+ in North Vancouver (City & District) meet the physical activity guideline of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise per week. (My Health, My Community Atlas, www.myhealthmycommunity.org, 2013-2016).

In British Columbia

  • 19% of youth in BC are overweight or obese. (2015, McCreary Adolescent Health Survey)

In Canada

  • 44% of 8-12 year olds meet the minimum recommended level of physical literacy (CAPL, 2011-16 as reported in ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children & Youth, 2016)
  • 9% of children aged 5-17 meet the health guideline of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity per day. (ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children & Youth, 2016)
  • 59% of adult Canadians are either overweight or obese.  Adults who have unhealthy weights are at increased risk of heart disease, cancer, strokes and Type 2 Diabetes. In 2005, the total cost of obesity to Canadians was $4.3 billion; $1.8 billion in indirect healthcare costs, and $2.5 billion in indirect costs. Affected adults may die up to 3 to 7 years earlier than counterparts with a healthy weight. (www.childhoodobesityfoundation.ca, April 2015)