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:
- Physical activity;
- Healthy eating;
- 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.