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Categories of physical culture

The GTActivity research team has identified hundreds of forms of physical culture that are practiced in the GTA. At present, we have posted profiles for 111 of these activities to, and we continue to add new activities on an almost daily basis.

During this process, we have struggled with how to classify and group the large range of activities that make up the GTA’s vibrant physical culture (we reflect on this process in more depth in our most recent blog post). We have decided to use six different forms of classification for activities:

  • Sports: Competitive activities with established rules (e.g. ice hockey, soccer);
  • Physical games: Games that involve physicality, but exist in non-competitive formats (e.g. paintball);
  • Martial arts: Physical forms of combat or self-defence training (e.g. karate, Okichitaw);
  • Exercise Systems: Structured activities that are performed primarily for exercise, training and/or health benefits (e.g. CrossFit, aquafit);
  • Dances: Patterned and rhythmic bodily movements, often performed to music (e.g. Argentine tango, polka);
  • Other: Physical activities that do not fall within these categories (e.g. hiking).

Inevitably, some activities fall into more than one category. For example, the Brazilian activity capoeira has elements of both martial art and dance, while the Chinese activity tai chi is both an exercise system and a form of martial art. Meanwhile, some activities are practiced both as competitive sport and casual recreation. Think, for example, of the difference between a cycling road race and a family taking a leisurely bike ride together. In instances of overlap, we have placed activities into multiple categories.

What do you think about the categories we have chosen? Are they effective for distinguishing between different types of activities? Are there any categories we are missing? Please share your thoughts by responding to this post.