“I believe Canada can be the healthiest country in the world, but we need to change how we think about physical activity. It’s not optional to exercise for your health. It’s essential."

After more than a year of increased sedentary behaviour and isolation during the pandemic, our collective physical and mental health and our quality of life has diminished. Not only that, but increased inactivity threatens to fuel chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, depression, obesity and mental illness that could overwhelm the healthcare system for generations to come.

The pandemic has exposed the inequities that exist in our society when it comes to accessing physical activity. It’s even more difficult for people in vulnerable communities.

Recognizing these realities, GoodLife CEO and philanthropist David Patchell-Evans reached out to social good consulting firm impakt to establish Change for Good Health. The vision for the project is to make physical activity a right for everyone.

Change for Good Health brought together more than 20 leading experts in the sport, recreation, fitness, academic, community development and healthcare sectors. The group met earlier this year to share research related to physical activity and health, as well as lessons learned and best practices for delivering programs to vulnerable communities.

More people than ever are aware of how important health is to our quality of life. Health is everything. We’ve learned that without health we have nothing. Regular exercise contributes to better health, so it follows that access to physical activity should always be available to everyone. It’s an essential way to take care of your health. 

The Change for Good Health: A Blueprint for Canada discussion paper consolidates participant feedback and ideas, alongside research, to identify innovative ways to support safer, more accessible opportunities for physical activity that will reach people during and after the pandemic. It doesn’t just target healthy people who live in optimal conditions, but those who are marginalized and face additional barriers.

The paper includes 6 goals for action:

  1. Accomplish more together by building the tools and partnerships to share lessons and best practices across the health and wellness sector.
  2. Democratize physical activity. Build sport, recreation, physical activity programs with accessibility and inclusion in mind.
  3. Make physical activity approachable, relevant and relatable.
  4. Set achievable goals for physical activity and involve marginalized communities in developing programs.
  5. Make sport and physical activity a welcoming and safe space for all.
  6. Ensure those who deliver programming are equipped to address the social and mental health impacts of physical inactivity.
“It’s clear there isn’t a quick fix. Inactivity has been an issue for generations, and has been made worse by the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. The discussion paper is just the beginning. It reflects existing research and diverse experiences of the experts who took part from many different sectors. These recommendations are designed to guide efforts by leaders in the physical activity sector. We hope they will inform program development, implementation, policy and strategy and make life better.”