As a Gen-X kid, I went through the well-meaning but perhaps, a little stressful-for-a-kid Canada Fitness Awards program. One big day of the year you did long jump, shuttle runs, “speed” sit-ups and the very-odd flexed arm hang (Crossfit would have something to say about the functional fitness of that one), and then you’d get a badge. It was very ’80s/’90s-era thinking that a kid would be satisfied with the humiliating “participant” badge when they couldn’t hold the ol’ flexed arm hang long enough to merit even a bronze, but that is the era I survived.

And until I dug into Wikipedia just now, I’d associated it with ParticipACTION—the non-profit group launched to try to get Canadians more active. Turns out I blamed the wrong group, because ParticipACTION funded the epic Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod BodyBreak episodes back then, and they are national treasures that are overdue for the Order of Canada, if they haven’t received one already (Wikipedia could not confirm).

 hal and joanneHal Johnson and Joanne McLeod of BodyBreak

They’ve also launched a way more satisfying way to get Canadians active: get outside at least three times a week, and you can win prizes—and I’ve already signed up. There are challenges throughout the year, but for the month of August, ParticipACTION has partnered with Mazda Canada for the CX-50 Minute campaign, in celebration of the latter’s new CX-50, purpose-built to get to the outdoors.

mazda cx-50The new Mazda CX-50

Download the ParticipACTION app, clock every time you get active outside—at least 50 minutes, three times a week—and you’re entered to win $30,000 in weekly draws and grand prizes from MEC, Sporting Life and more.  

And why? Unlike that flexed arm hang, getting outside makes sense for getting you moving—and helping you feel better. “Just a single bout of activity can support cognitive and mental health—to help you feel more energized, to help with how we think and learn,” says Dr. Leigh Vanderloo, Scientific Director of ParticipACTION. “And when we combine any of our movement with the outdoors, we get added bang for our buck, especially for mental health.”

A recent survey found that Canadians weren't spending nearly enough time outside, despite the fact that we know it's good for us. And after the past couple of years of on-again, off-again isolation it's more important than ever, says Dr. Vanderloo.

“There’s no such thing as bad movement, and that’s another reason we want to stress getting outdoors,” says Dr. Vanderloo.  “People tend to think the only way to get active is in a gym. And we still want people to be spending time together, where possible, especially right now after the last two years – and to really leverage that time together by adding in a little more movement.”