Walk to Tuk: An innovative physical activity program for Northwest Territories residents
Brooks-Cleator, Lauren A.
Giles, Audrey R.
Residents in rural and remote communities face barriers to physical activity that are related to climate, lack of facilities and infrastructure, lack of transportation, and lack of safe and public spaces. Consequently, 42.5% of people in the NWT still report being inactive during their leisure time. Walk to Tuk is an innovative initiative which has been able to effectively address many of the barriers to physical activity for residents in the NWT through its flexible and simple approach. Walk to Tuk is a physical activity challenge that is run on an annual basis by the NWTRPA. It encourages community members, schools, and workplaces to form teams of between 1-20 people to conceptually ‘walk the distance’ of the Mackenzie River from Fort Providence to Tuktoyaktuk, a total of 1,658km, between the beginning of January and the beginning of March – the coldest months of the year in the NWT. Anyone can participate in Walk to Tuk regardless of ability or age. In 2015, Walk to Tuk had a tremendous impact on the NWT, with 2,500 participants from 24 NWT communities who logged a total of 453,442.4 kilometers. There are many aspects of Walk to Tuk that are innovative and contribute to its success. Walk to Tuk is challenging, territory-wide, web-based, allows for a range of activities, caters to all age groups in the NWT, and is a winter-based program. Furthermore, there is no fee or equipment required to participate in it and it includes a team component that is beneficial for social support. It is an innovate program that gets people in the Sub-Arctic and Arctic physically active in large numbers.