Physical Activity Strategy: BC on the Move

In 2003, a provincial coalition of organizations called the British Columbia Healthy Living Alliance (BCHLA) was formed to improve the health of British Columbians.

In 2005, the BCHLA published the Winning Legacy, a position paper laying out 27 recommendations to address risk factors of lifestyle related to chronic disease. The following year, a one-time grant of $25.2 million was awarded by the Provincial Government through ActNow BC to support the implementation of these recommendations through promotion of:

  1. Physical activity;
  2. Healthy eating;
  3. Tobacco reduction.

An extensive study determined that the most effective strategy to increase physical activity among British Columbians would:

1. Target inactive 35-54 year old adults. It was determined that this group:

  • Makes up nearly 43% of the population in BC.
  • Displays high rates of physical inactivity (44.1 %).
  • Are accessible through multiple health promotion settings: community; workplace and health services.
  • Are key influencers for children and youth, as well as older adults and parents.
  • Increase likelihood of ‘healthy aging’.

2. Build on existing opportunities and infrastructure.

  • Community programs can build on existing programs and events if provided with tools, resources and access to information.
  • Community initiatives with multiple components (i.e. support and self-help groups, physical activity counseling, community events, walking trails) when combined with a mass media campaign, are most successful.

3. Address life circumstances of inactive adults in BC:

  • Low socio-economic background.
  • Smaller and/or northern communities.
  • Minority and immigrant populations.
  • Low literacy.
  • Increased health risks.

4. Support an environment that nourishes and enhances physical activity.

  • Community approaches: infrastructure like sidewalks, trails and bicycle lanes make it easier for people to move about and leave their cars at home.
  • Participatory and community-based: involve public health, local government, parks and recreation facilities, community advocates, transportation planners, and non profit organizations.
  • Tools and templates provide a framework to address unique community needs, and develop policy.
  • Awareness is a key factor in informing and engaging the community.

The four initiatives of the Physical Activity Strategy collectively helped increase physical activity levels using two approaches:

1) Focus directly on the target population.

2) Focus on creating supportive environments for physical activity.