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Fresh air is the best medication for mental health: Outdoor advocate

Jeff Roe is an outdoor enthusiast who turns to cross-country skiing to boost his wellbeing.

“Well for me to decompress, I like to get outside, which is why I work in an outdoors store,” said Roe. “Looking at nature, seeing other people enjoy themselves or the animals. It all makes me feel a lot better for physical and mental reasons.”

One of Roe’s favourite places to go is Eb’s Cross-Country Ski Trails. For him, just getting exercise makes him feel and sleep better.

“Your mind can be stimulated by everything that's around you. So that's where I go (outside) to kind of bring myself back to a calm mental state,” he said.

For Canadian Mental Health Association representative Faith Bodnar, Roe’s thoughts on getting outside and getting active add up.

“When we get outside, especially during the wintertime in Canada and in Saskatchewan. We get outside and get some fresh air,” said Bodnar. “It’s not just rest for our bodies, but for our brains as well. The chemical parts of our bodies influence those parts in our brain as well. It's really important to get physical activity.”

According to Bodnar, two to three per cent of the Canadian population are affected by what is known as Season Affective Disorder (SAD) — a form of depression related to changes in the season during the winter months. Some people need medication and treatment for it, while others use SAD lamps, but according to Bodnar, getting outside can help combat it.

“Get outside and get some fresh air,” said Bodnar. “From walking to snow shoveling to, winter sports, whatever; whatever you can think of that fits for you, and that you want to do.”

Bodnar recommends getting outside for at least an hour. Top Stories

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