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Get up and Get Out

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

Literary Review - Kaitlin Calla

Is Comfortable and Happy the same?

How would you report your own mental health? Maybe you find comfort when you are scrolling through social media, in line for a coffee at your regular spot, opening your porch delivery, or perhaps when you have time to catch up on the latest Netflix series.

Van Marken Lichtenbelt, a researcher in nutrition and movement sciences at Maastricht University in the Netherlands asks the question, “We always think in terms of comfort, but why not think in terms of pleasure?” (J. B. Mackinnon, 2021).

Pleasure, happiness and very good general health and mental health are on average declining in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2021). According to data from the Canadian Community Health Survey - Annual Component 67% of Canadians reported their mental health to be excellent or very good in 2019.

At the beginning of the pandemic, April 2020, this proportion fell to 54% and by April of 2021 it dropped to 48%. When the totals were divided into men and women, in April of 2021 men were (53%) more likely than women (44%) to report excellent or very good mental health.

Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

Research by Rachel C. Colley and her team might have a solution to this downward trend of mental health. Pre Covid 19 only 1 in 5 Canadian adults are meeting the target of 150 minutes per week of activity levels.

Symptoms of anxiety, anger and depression are reduced with exercise, specifically outdoors (Colley et al. 2020). More women reported very good or excellent mental health if they were exercising outdoors (54%) compared to those who were not (41%). The study also notes that avoiding excessive screen time in combination with outdoor activity are key behaviours for Canadians to practice for overall health benefits (Colley et al. 2020).

The term ‘green exercise’ was adopted in 2003 and refers to the health benefits that occur when exercise is performed in nature (Gladwell et al. 2013). There is evidence that suggests that exercise may feel easier when performed in the natural environment.