Skip to Content

ParticipACTION: Fighting Canada’s Physical Inactivity Problem


Health & Wellness

feet walking on grass

Canada is in the midst of a physical inactivity crisis, and the pandemic made the situation even worse. ParticipACTION – Canada’s national non-profit that inspires and supports Canadians to make physical activity part of everyday life – revealed in their second Report Card on Physical Activity for Adults that Canadians earned a resounding “F” for sedentary behaviours. Only 12% of Canadians spending less than eight hours of sedentary time a day.

With winter looming alongside yet another wave of COVID-19, things weren’t looking good for 2022. But, the real challenge was that Canadians’ inactivity wasn’t exactly new news and past storylines encouraging physical activity weren’t working. Something had to change.

Where did we start? 

We needed to wake Canadians up to the inactivity crisis and position ParticipACTION as an accessible and credible resource to help us get moving again. Our goals were:
• Drive awareness of ParticipACTION’s Adult Report Card
• Grow understanding on the importance of getting active, particularly during COVID-19
• Drive downloads of the Report Card in concert with other marketing efforts by ParticipACTION

What opportunities did we identify?

As we endured wave after wave of COVID-19 and many of us worked from home, research told us this newfound freedom was not translating into better health habits. In fact, it was driving us in the opposite direction. With the blurring between work and personal time, virtual communication keeping us glued to our seats and the dramatic increase in content consumption through seemingly endless streaming services and binge-inducing social platforms, we weren’t going anywhere. The insight was clear – COVID-19 had taken our physical inactivity crisis from bad to worse.

What was the solution?

Our strategy focused on two themes: the idea of a “less than” New Normal and the more optimistic call to build back better. The result was “Moving Toward a Better Normal,” which served as our hero cover story and underpinned our comprehensive earned media strategy.

In preparation for earned outreach, we media trained our spokespeople to ensure they delivered the messages without technical jargon and in a positive way that would be motivational while expressing urgency around making physical activity a necessity of life. Our media outreach strategy focused on embargoed outreach in advance of the report card launch to have coverage go live when the report was released. Closer to launch day, we pre-pitched national and regional media. On launch day, we shared a news release on the wire in both English and French and used the release as an additional opportunity to follow up with media who did not pick up the story when we pre-pitched.

How did we do?

The media strategy was successful at driving media uptake with more than 151 million impressions (exceeding the coverage of the first-ever Adult Report Card by 45%) with 676 pieces of coverage, including every top-tier Canadian outlet resulting in high population awareness. The campaign also positioned ParticipACTION as a thought leader, offering solutions to get active and generated downloads of the full report and the ParticipACTION app.

Let's Work Together

Contact Us