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Years ago, ParticipACTION was a household word in Canada. Everyone was talking about the ads claiming that a 60-year-old Swede was fitter than a 30-year-old Canadian.

A recent Ipsos Reid survey found that many Canadians still remember ParticipACTION fondly: 84 per cent of adults 35 to 54 have positive memories about the program.

The big news is the well-received fitness awareness campaign is back with a $5 million federal government investment announced in December 2006.

Through radio and TV ads (three in English and two in French), the renewed ParticipACTION program promotes physical activity as an opportunity instead of an inconvenience.

The campaign’s message is: “It’s time for all of us to make moving something we really want to do, all the time, as part of our everyday lives.”

This article tells you why ParticiACTION is important and how it will help get Canadians moving.

Why Do We Need To Hear From ParticipACTION?
“Changing behaviour is difficult,” says Elio Antunes, chief operating officer and vice-president of partnerships at ParticipACTION. “The challenge is that the benefits of exercise are not always apparent.”

ParticipACTION’s first marketing campaign targets parents of kids aged seven to 12 to draw attention to the high rates of childhood inactivity and obesity.

While parents are a special audience, the overall program is aimed at all Canadians. The Canadian Community Health Surveys indicate that one in two Canadians is overweight and one in seven is obese.

How Will ParticipACTION Get Us Moving?
“We’re hoping our messages about moving more during our daily routines will come across as something that people can manage to do,” Antunes says.

For example, people who don’t feel they have time to go to the gym can still take the stairs instead of an elevator, and parents can take a few minutes to toss a ball around with their kids or go for a walk before or after dinner.

ParticipACTION has a new website,, and is also teaming up with other fitness and sports groups.

“We’re very partnership oriented,” Antunes says. “We are aiming to provide something of value to these other groups and to establish positive relationships with them.”

Dr. Mark Tremblay participated in what he describes as the “resurrection” of ParticipACTION. Active Healthy Kids Canada, a group that Tremblay chairs, supports the cause by producing an annual Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.

“Current research indicates that 91 per cent of Canadian kids are not meeting the physical activity guidelines.

“There is a disconnect between perception and reality,” Tremblay says. “Many parents don’t believe there is a problem, but the statistics show otherwise. So we need to adjust the social norms.”

Tremblay says there is a need to get parents on board because “they control the eating and moving environment, and the evidence suggests they are not all doing a great job.”

Parents are influential role models for their children. If parents and grandparents are physically active, children are more likely to be active themselves, he says.

ParticipACTION is back because Canada still has a big problem with physical inactivity. It’s important to raise awareness among young people who are still developing habits and attitudes that are likely to remain with them for the rest of their lives.

“I am excited about having this opportunity,” Antunes says. “ParticipACTION can influence and inspire through public education and by generating the support of partners across the country.”

Learn More
Active Healthy Kids Canada
The report card on physical activity for children and youth provides the latest statistics and recommendations for Canadians.

Heart and Stroke Foundation
Includes a Body Mass Index calculator.

Fun tips for getting active, success stories and reasons that you should get active.

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