January 6, 2017 8:00 am
Updated: January 6, 2017 11:39 am

ParticipACTION 150 Play List encourages Canadians to get active

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It’s a clear, crisp morning in Victoria and judging by the activity at Henderson Park, people aren’t putting off physical activity until the New Year. Seniors are working out on the outdoor fitness equipment, university students are playing a game of tennis and a father is teaching his teenage daughter how to putt on the golf course. Perhaps most impressive, a couple and two school-aged children are jogging along the chip trail, their puffs of breath mingling together and rising above them like a thought bubble. When it comes to health performance in Canada, British Columbians are at the top of the podium and it’s easy to see why on this winter day.

British Columbia is the only province to receive an A grade on the Conference Board of Canada’s 2015 health report card, and ranks behind only Switzerland and Sweden when compared to 15 peer countries. These strong results are testament to the provincial government’s commitment to fostering active people and active places. For example, the province funded the outdoor equipment at Henderson Park, which is one of 19 Seniors’ Community Parks across the province.

Woman hiking in mountains with akita dog, Karkonosze Mountain Range Poland. Sport, activity and recreation in autumn. Fitness and exercising in nature.

“British Columbia is among the top performers in the world when it comes to health,” said Gabriela Prada, director of health innovation, policy and evaluation at the Conference Board.

“The province has one of the highest life expectancies in the world as well as one of the lowest mortality rates due to cancer—the number one killer in Canada.”

The Conference Board report card, which is part of the organization’s multiyear “How Canada Performs” research initiative, notes that B.C. boasts the best health outcomes in the country in large part thanks to residents’ healthy lifestyles. The province has the lowest obesity rate in Canada as well as the most physically active population in the country.

So what’s keeping other Canadians glued to the couch while West Coasters get their sweat on?

There are many reasons people give up on exercising (or never lace up their runners to begin with), including lack of time and energy, prohibitive fees for activities or memberships, boredom with the same old routine and simply having no idea where to start. But thanks to a new ParticipACTION initiative, Canadians will no longer lack ideas or inspiration.

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, the national nonprofit has created the 150 Play List, the ultimate compilation of physical activities to inspire people from coast to coast to get moving—and have fun in the process.

Woman swimming freestyle, Canon 1Ds mark III

“We are creating the ParticipACTION 150 Play List to celebrate 150 years of active living in Canada,” said Elio Antunes, president and CEO of ParticipACTION. “Canada is one big playground, and with its vast landscapes, there are so many ways to be active in this country.”

For the past two months, the organization invited people to vote for their favourite activities, including popular sports (hockey), volunteerism (shoreline cleanup), chores (lawn mowing), family fun (camping) and even a New Year’s Day activity (polar bear swim). Now they are encouraging people to start tracking the activities they complete online for the chance to win big-ticket prizes (trip to the Grey Cup or a new car, anyone?). ParticipACTION hopes the 150 Play List will kick-start a nationwide healthy living movement.

“Being physically active should be fun,” added Antunes. “And, being strong and physically active is part of who we are as a people—no matter where we live.”

yoga-pose

The 150 Play List is supported by the Government of Canada and has an enthusiastic fan in Minister of Canadian Heritage Mélanie Joly. “The ParticipACTION 150 Play List is a project that brings people together and engages young men and women who share the goal of staying healthy,” she said. “Let’s all take part and get active!”

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