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Note: Definitions credited to the Alberta Centre for Active Living, 2010, were adapted from various sources for use in the Physical Activity for All project.

Aboriginal peoples

A collective name for the original peoples of North America and their descendants. The Canadian constitution recognizes three groups of Aboriginal people: Indians (commonly referred to as First Nations), Métis, and Inuit. These are three distinct peoples with unique histories, languages, cultural practices, and spiritual beliefs. More than one million people in Canada identify themselves as an Aboriginal person, according to the 2006 Census.
(Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2010)


The freedom and ability to enter, approach, or pass to and from a place or make use of a service, program, or opportunity.
(Alberta Centre for Active Living, 2010)


The extent to which needed services or opportunities are available to, and used by, people from diverse groups. Back to top
(Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition, 2010)

Accessibility audit

Examining a building, program or service, either internally or externally, to assess how accessible it is for various groups of people. An audit can help pinpoint areas that may need to be improved to help the organization and building become more inclusive.
(Legacies Now, 2010)

Active living

  • The implementation into daily life of the physical activity needed to optimize health. (Tremblay et al., (2007) Research that informs Canada’s physical activity guides: An introduction. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 32(S 2E), S1-S8.)
  • A broader concept that incorporates exercise, recreational activities, household and occupational activities, and active transportation. (Sallis, et al., (2006). An ecological approach to creating active living communities. Annual Review of Public Health, 27, 297–322.)
  • A way of life that values physical activity and integrates it into daily living.
    (Active Living Canada, 2010)

Active transportation/ Active commuting

Active transportation is any form of human-powered transportation intended to get an individual to a particular destination—work, school, the store, a friend’s house. There are many modes of active transportation, including walking, cycling, wheeling, in-line skating, skateboarding, and ice skating (e.g., on a canal). Back to top
(Public Health Agency of Canada, Healthy Living Unit, 2010)


An obstacle that prevents an individual or group from accessing the same (or similar and appropriate) services or opportunities as others. A barrier can be physical (e.g., stairs), financial (e.g., the need for child care), attitudinal (e.g., individual and systemic discrimination), social (e.g., prevailing norms and attitudes), and geographic (e.g., inaccessible transportation).
(Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition, 2010)

Built environment

The man-made environment where human activity occurs as opposed to the natural environment created by nature. The built environment includes buildings, streets, bridges, and all other man-made structures in urban and rural settings. The term often refers to the features of the human environment designed, constructed, and managed by engineers, architects, and planners.
(Alberta Centre for Active Living, 2010)


A physical location or place where a group of individuals live and are subject to the same laws. Community can also refer to a group of individuals with common characteristics, beliefs, values, or interests (e.g., a faith-based community). As well, communities can be composed of individuals sharing a range of common needs or experiences (e.g., the need for physical accommodation, the experience of racism). A key aspect of any “community” is the sense of belonging or attachment that individuals have with one another and/or their environment.Back to top
(Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition, 2010)


A complex and dynamic organization of meaning, knowledge, artifacts, and symbols that guide human behaviour, account for shared patterns of thought and action, and contribute to human, social, and physical survival. Culture is transmitted, reinforced, and passed on from generation to generation and is constantly changing.
(Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition, 2010)


An umbrella term referring to impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.
(World Health Organization, 2007)


The unique characteristics of individuals and groups within a community.Back to top
(Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition, 2010)

Ecological approach

In the public health sector, an ecological approach refers to the interaction between people and their physical and socio-cultural surroundings. An ecological model is distinguishable from other models because it includes environmental and policy variables that are expected to influence behaviour. Ecological models include multiple layers of variables, which may include intrapersonal, interpersonal/cultural, organizational, and environmental (social and physical), and policy.
(Sallis, et al., (2006). An ecological approach to creating active living communities. Annual Review of Public Health, 27, 297–322.)


A form of leisure-time physical activity that is usually performed on a repeated basis over an extended period of time for a specific external objective such as improvement of fitness, physical performance, or health.
(Tremblay et al., (2007) Research that informs Canada’s physical activity guides: An introduction. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 32(S 2E), S1-S8.)


For the purposes of this project, facilitators are factors that encourage and support physical activity participation.Back to top
(Alberta Centre for Active Living, 2010)

Focus groups

A form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes regarding a product, service, concept, advertisement, or idea. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members.
(Henderson, (2009) “Managing Moderator Stress: Take a Deep Breath. You Can Do This,” Marketing Research)


A philosophical approach to implementing social justice in schools and society so that all persons are valued and included as unique, contributing members of society. An important aspect of inclusion is providing people with the opportunity to make informed choices.
(DePauw & Doll-Pepper, (2000). Toward progressive inclusion and acceptance: Myth or reality? The inclusion debate and bandwagon discourse. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, 17(2), 135-143)

Land-use policies

Govern the ways that land will be used. These policies also outline the permitted and restricted uses of land in a particular area (e.g., public road use, new commercial tourism) and provided selective guidelines associated with some land uses. Back to top
(Ontario’s Crown Land Use Policy Atlas, 2007)

Limited mobility

The physical ability level of those who have difficulties with movement activities due to a physical disability or chronic condition.
(Alberta Centre for Active Living, 2010)

Mixed-use neighbourhoods

Neighbourhoods in which land is used for a variety of purposes such as housing (e.g., single family homes, apartments and condominiums) commercial uses (e.g., grocery stores, local businesses), education (e.g., schools, colleges), care giving (e.g., daycares, long-term care facilities), and places of worship.
(Alberta Centre for Active Living, 2010)

Natural environments

The environment created by nature (e.g., lakes, forests, rivers), as well as weather (e.g., wind, cold, heat) and air quality.
(Alberta Centre for Active Living, 2010)

New Canadians

Individuals who were not born in Canada (e.g., immigrants, refugees, temporary workers) and came here to start a new life. Back to top
(Alberta Centre for Active Living, 2010)

Older adults

Participants in the Physical Activity For All focus groups who self-identified as an older adult (as opposed to being a particular age).
(Alberta Centre for Active Living, 2010)

Physical activity

Anybody movement produced by the skeletal muscles that results in a substantial increase over resting energy expenditure. Bouchard & Shephard, 1994). This broad rubric encompasses physically active leisure pursuits, exercise, sports, most forms of occupational work, and other factors modifying the individuals total energy expenditure.
(Tremblay et al., (2007) Research that informs Canada’s physical activity guides: An introduction. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 32(S 2E), S1-S8.)

Physical environment

An aspect of the ecological model used in the Physical Activity for All project. In the project, the physical environment refers to the physical surroundings which may influence peoples’ behavior and may include, for example, natural surroundings, the weather, or the built environment. Back to top
(Alberta Centre for Active Living, 2010)


A qualified person who regularly practices any profession (e.g., medical, physiology, educational, occupational therapy, etc).
(Alberta Centre for Active Living, 2010)


Settings outside of large urban centers (e.g., farming areas, wilderness areas, small villages and towns).
(Alberta Centre for Active Living, 2010)

Smart Growth

The features that distinguish smart growth in a community vary from place to place. In general, smart growth invests time, attention, and resources in restoring community and vitality to center cities and older suburbs. New smart growth is more town-centered, is transit and pedestrian oriented, and has a greater mix of housing, commercial and retail uses. It also preserves open space and many other environmental amenities. (Smart Growth, 2009)

Social environment

An aspect of the ecological model referring to the social influences which may influence our behavior and choices. Back to top
(Alberta Centre for Active Living, 2010)

Social support

The individual belief that one is cared for and loved, esteemed and valued, and belongs to a network of communication and mutual obligations...The perceived availability of people whom the individual trusts and who make one feel cared for and valued as a person. Social support is closely related to the concept of a social network, or the ties to family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, and others of significance to the person. (European Union Public Health Information System, 2009)


Larger, more densely populated areas, such as cities and metropolitan areas.
(Alberta Centre for Active Living, 2010)

Urban sprawl

The spread of urban areas into rural areas and former farmland. The term is typically associated with low-density residential neighborhoods that promote automobile dependence due to their design and, lack of services.
(Alberta Centre for Active Living, 2010)


An index applied to a neighbourhood to indicate how friendly it is to walking (e.g., the Back to topquality of walking conditions, including safety, comfort and convenience).
(Victoria Transport Policy Institute, 2009)

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