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Physical Activity: Creating Inclusive Programming


  • Physical activity,
  • Social environment,
  • Community,
  • Facilities & organizations,
  • Schools,

Creating inclusive programming

Research shows inclusive programs promote physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour.1-4 Those with reduced mobility, who have limited financial means, or who are new to Canada sometimes get overlooked when communities are planning physical activity programs. These community members have a great deal of knowledge, ideas and resourcefulness that they can share to help you plan your activities and to increase participation. 

The key ingredient when promoting a welcoming and inclusive community is food, fun and people!

Ways to get started

  • Consider factors that impact inclusive participation (e.g. language, culture, traditions, age and ability), when designing a new physical activity program or redesigning existing ones.5
  • Support training programs for staff and volunteers to plan and deliver physical activity sessions that respect diversity and needs.6
  • Support low cost or free programming.
  • Host activities in accessible locations.
  • Reach out to partners who can supply mobility aids.
  • Work with municipalities to make inclusive programing mandatory.6,7
  • Partner with schools, municipalities, organizations and facilities to raise awareness of the programs and how they can get involved When raising awareness of the programs, ensure message is respectful of different groups and values.
  • Create opportunites through partnerships to educate and provide strategies on how to increase inclusiveness physical activity.
  • Work with municipalities to improve the physical environment in order to accommodate all abilities.
  • Consider all ages and abilities during program design.
  • Keep in mind cultural considerations.

For further action to increase physical activity in your community, see

Multi-component community-wide interventions that increase awareness about and provide opportunities for physical activity in your community will have greater impact than implementing one-off strategies.

Evaluation measures the impact of all the hard work that went into developing a community initiative. Evaluating impact examines:

  1. What you expect to learn or change
  2. What you measure and report
  3. How to measure impact

 What you expect to learn about creating inclusive programming may include:

  • Learning that the strategy is reaching those you want to reach
  • Increased feeling of belonging
  • Increased participation in activities
  • Increased perception of meeting the needs of a diverse population

References: Inclusive Programming

  1. Williams G, Hamm MP, Shulhan J, Vandermeer B, Hartling L. Social media interventions for diet and exercise behaviours: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ Open. 2014;4(2):e003926. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003926. Available from:
  2. MacArthur Group Inc. Physical activity strategy for Prince Edward Island 2004-2009. Charlottetown (PE): MacArthur Group; 2004. Available from:
  3. Thomas H, Fitzpatrick-Lewis D, Rideout E, Muresan J. What is the effectiveness of community-based/primary care interventions in reducing obesity among adults in the general population? Effective Public Health Practice Project (EPHPP). Hamilton (ON): EPHPP; 2008. Available from:
  4. National Guideline Clearinghouse. Maintaining a healthy weight and preventing excess weight gain among adults and children. Agency for Healthcare and Research Quality (AHRQ). Rockville (MD): AHRQ; 2015. Available from:
  5. BC Ministry of Health. Evidence review: healthy living – physical activity and healthy eating. CORE public health functions for BC. Victoria (BC): BC Ministry of Health; 2006. Available from:
  6. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Physical activity for children and young people. NICE guideline. London (UK): National Institute for Health and Care Excellence; 2009. Available from:
  7. Koplan JP, Liverman CT, Kraak VA. Preventing childhood obesity: health in the balance. Washington (DC): National Academies Press; 2005. Available from: