A new video from the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario (CMHA Ontario) and the Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities (SCHC) shows the benefits of green exercise for mental health.
SCHC runs Mood Walks, a hiking program from CMHA Ontario which promotes both physical and mental wellness for seniors 55+. Participants of the program share their experience in the video, highlighting the benefits on their health and relationships.
“It’s rewarding because you are getting out, you’re talking to other people, finding out what they do or what they don’t do,” says Bob Bracewell, one of the Mood Walks participants. “And it’s nice to relax.”
The benefits of nature on mental well-being are well documented. Regular use of natural areas for physical activity can reduce the risk of mental health problems by 50 per cent.
The participants “have built some long-lasting relationships” through the program, notes Debbie Lee, Seniors Health Program Coordinator for SCHC. “They are very supportive. It’s encouraged them to get out and reconnect with nature again,” she says in the video.
“As caregivers, we know that [the participants] don’t do a lot of self-care,” Lee says in the video. “They tend to care more for their loved one than they do themselves, so I think it’s really sparked a little bit of fire in them, this Mood Walks program.”
Watch the full video below:
Mood Walks is a provincial partnership project between Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division, Hike Ontario, and Conservation Ontario to provide opportunities for caregivers 55+ to improve their physical and mental well-being, make meaningful connection with their peers, and experience the healing effects of nature. The project is part of the ENRICHES collective impact project, which aims to improve the well-being and social connectedness of caregivers in the city of Toronto.
For more information about Mood Walks and how you can participate, visit moodwalks.ca.