The 5 fastest growing recreational activities in Canada

Bet you can't guess what they are ...

Everyone is well aware of the push by health advocators and the senior demographic to stay active throughout their retirement years. The  question is though, what are the activities that are of interest to me personally? Here are the five top activities attracting participation across the country. 

1. Pickleball

A combination table tennis/badminton/tennis, pickleball began in the US in the summer of 1965 when three dads tried to set up a badminton set in the backyard but couldn't find a birdie. They had a wiffleball, so they called off the seach and used that, and pickleball was born. It's played by 2 or 4 poeple on a badminton or tennis court using solid plastic paddles and, you know, a ball.

Apparently the guys aren't quite sure where the name came from, and in later years disagreement ensued. Joel Prichard, one of the original three dads, said that it was named after the family dog, Pickles. His wife, Joan, disagreed. She said that the game "reminded me of the Pickle Boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats." She says that the dog came later, and was named after the game, not the other way around. I'm not making this up.

Joel--wife of Joan, founder of Pickleball, owner of Pickles--went on to become a member of the US house of representatives and, from there, 14th Lieutenant Governor of the state of Washington. In the UK naked Pickleball is catching on, though, if there is any justice in the world, that's exactly where it will stay. 

2. Golf

Already a popular sport amongst seniors, this sport continues to grow with not only more courses available to enjoy but more courses valuing their seniors and offering fantastic deals and packages for seniors to enjoy. Many active-living communities are located around or near golf courses, with the sport as well as the culture providing a draw. 

Many players are intersted in the technology, with new clubs and balls adding distance and precision to their games. Then again, there are those who graviate to the more traditional version of the sport. The Golf Historical Society of Canada (yup, there really is one) began in 1988 when four friends got together around an interest in the lore, legends, and the equipment used in the earlier days of the game. They felt that there must be other people who had similar interests, and they were right. Today they run a series of tounaments in southern Ontario each year, including the Hickory Classic in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Players wear funny clothes, loud socks, and play with wooden clubs. The events draw players from throghout North America. 

3. Zumba

Dance, cardiovascular fitness, and a fun name: Zumba was created by Columbian dancer, choreographer, and fitness guru Alberto "Beto" Perez in the 1990s. Like Pickball, this is an activity that was born in a moment of improvization. Perez was working as a fitness instructor in Columbia, and arrived at his class one day to find that he'd forgotted the aerobics music tape at home. So, he used the CD that he had been listening to in the car. Zumba was born! 

It combines the music and the moves of Latin dance with easy-to-follow moves. It's maybe also a little bit goofy, which for many is part of the attraction. Participation continues to grow, though it's been gangbusters for the last few years or so. The CD "Zumba Fitness Dance Party (Vol.1)" was released in 2012, and topped the pop charts in France and Switzerland in its first week of distribution. 

4. Prediction Events (walking, running, cycling, skating, Nordic skiing)

Prediction events allow participants to compete at their own skill level. Instead of a speed competition, participants indicate the time it will take them to complete the specified distance. The goal is to come as close as possible to the stated time. Which seems like a in invitation to cheeting, but for the most part people honour their commitment to fairness and good sportsmanship. 

And it's catching on. Numbers show that prediction events are growing faster than the timed trial events at the District and Regional Games and the Ontario 55+ Summer and Winter Games.

5.   Volleyball

Not just a popular high school sport anymore! Volleyball continues to be played by those 55+, 65+ and 75+.  At the 2011 Ontario Winter 55+ Games there were over 180 participants and 22 teams, making it the 2nd largest event at the games, second only to hockey.  

The number one shrinking activity in Canada? Shuffleboard. 

—by Glen Herbert
(with files from Matt Trinnear)


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