Posted by: Tony Carson | 26 October, 2009

Fund ParticipACTION

All Canadians knew that 60 year old Swedes were fitter than the average 30 year old Canadian at about the same time we learned about the ‘chicken’ Swede hockey player who was afraid to go into the corner in the rink. Both were myths but the 60 year old inspired some action. Specifically ParticipACTION.

ParticipACTION was launched by the Canadian government in the 70’s to encourage healthy living and physical fitness. It did so through a series of public service announcements on TV that encouraged Canadians to get off the couch and get moving. It worked. They did. But the program petered out in 2001 due to federal financial cutbacks. It was revived two years ago with a one-off grant of $5 million and the program has had its hand out ever since.

But, man, if the persuasion program was needed in the 70’s it is in vital and urgent demand in the Oughties. The rise of fatties, obesity, diabetes and all the other often lifestyle choice results has created a daunting burden on the country’s healthcare system.

If an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure, then a little investment to get people moving could have a dramatic pay-off, as it once did.

But ParticipACTION shouldn’t just be a federal initiative, it should involve every level of government and every facet of the private sector. There is no reason why all can’t participate in a harmonized message to accomplish the same goal, get fit!

The need for constant activity must become more a part of our consciousness. We need constant encouragement, motivation and ideas and ParticipACTION can provide them.

Donovan Bailey is leading a request for federal funding we should all get behind.

We should stop pissing around with this and get serious. Everyone benefits.



  1. Thank you very much for your attention to, and support of, ParticipACTION!

    The only thing in your post we’d love to comment on is the “myth” of the 60-year-old Swede. To give you the official story, in 1972, ParticipACTION’s Russ Kisby was reviewing a book by Dr. Roy Shephard of the University of Toronto that described how an active man at age 60 could have the same level of fitness as a sedentary man at age 30. The book included a chart comparing fitness levels in various countries that ranked Swedes at the top of the list and Canadians much further down. The research also indicated that some 30-year-old Canadian men had the same recorded fitness levels as some 60-year-old Swedes. Seizing the opportunity, ParticipACTION melded these two ideas and the 60-year-old Swede was born—he sprung from research and he remains a powerful, influential communications concept to this day.

    As you know, Canada is still facing a physical inactivity crisis. Only 13 per cent of our children and youth are meeting daily physical activity guidelines of 90 minutes per day, and childhood obesity rates have tripled in the past three decades. Overall, more than half of Canadians are considered inactive.

    At ParticipACTION, we are committed to encouraging all Canadians to move more.

    Thanks for your support!


    Kelly D. Murumets
    President and CEO

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