The InterActive for Life Project

What is the InterActive for Life (IA4L) Project?

Dr. Rebecca J. Lloyd and Dr. Stephen Smith discuss the project.

The overarching goal of this Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded InterActive for Life (IA4L) project is to inspire more Canadians to become ‘Inter-Active for Life’ by changing the way physical activity is conceived and experienced. Rather than perpetuate fear and the avoidance of disease and ‘death’ as the primary motivators for improving physical activity rates, this project draws attention to the sensations of ‘life’ that are experienced in moments of connection within relational physical activities. 

Learning from Experts in Relational Physical Activities

The first phase of this project involved observations, interviews and motivational videos of experts engaged in sustained and sustaining interactivities such as salsa dance, equestrian arts, martial arts, and acroyoga with the goal of analyzing, qualitatively and phenomenologically, what makes the ongoing practice of these inter-activities enlivening and sustainable. 

The over-arching research question for phase one was, “What is it like to experience an inter-activity for life?” 

The subsequent Function2Flow sub-questions were:

  1. Function – What fitness attributes and fundamental motions provide a foundation for your interactivity?
  2. Form – How does outer body awareness enhance your interactivity? 
  3. Feeling – What is it like to sense breathing, muscular contraction/elongation and alignment in specific actions? 
  4. Flow – What is it to feel flow in your interactivity?

The analysis of the responses generated from these questions led to the development of the Interactive Function2Flow model and inspired the creation of the IA4L Resource.

Mobilizing Relational Physical Activity Knowledge

The second phase of the IA4L project was based on sharing the generalizable tenets of ‘interactivity’ acquired in phase one with Physical Education teachers and coaches through a series of professional development workshops and opportunities for ongoing mentoring. Two physical education teacher candidates, Anika Littlemore and Christina Nyentap, took a particular interest in aligning their emergent practice with the tenets of the IA4L project. They voluntarily participated in a weekly lab of professional inquiry over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year and were subsequently hired to develop the InterActive for Life (IA4L) Resource – a guide for developing social emotional skills and movement competencies through physical interactivity

We would love to find out how this resource is inspiring your teaching and coaching practices. The final phase of our project is to track your response though our social media feeds. We would love to find out what interactivities you tried and what ideas you have for generating more activities that cultivate meaningful connection. Thank you for interacting with us!