A new mood walk program is helping promote mental health at Humber College.
Mood walks are walks which are held in the arboretum at Humber College North Campus or indoors on campus depending on the weather. They are designed to boost physical activity and help reduce stress, bringing a sense of calm to people by taking them for a stroll in nature. Students usually walk for 30-40 minutes.
Mood walks were first introduced at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). CAMH brought mood walks into different universities and colleges. They were introduced at Humber College by Leanne Henwood Adam, fitness coordinator at Humber College, and Agnes Coutinho, assistant program head of kinesiology at the University of Guelph-Humber.
“Exercise in general because you are getting your blood pumping around your body and get those feel good endorphins going through your body when you exercise so that helps people to boost their mood,” says Adam. “There has been a lot of research that shows how just being in nature can calm people down.”
During the walks students receive a tour of the areas they haven’t seen before. Students also get the opportunity to disconnect from screens.
“It’s a nice break for students sitting in front of a screen and being able to disconnect for a second and come out and see there is more going on than just their assignments,” Reid Williamson, a senior nature interpreter at the Humber arboretum, says.
The walks are both staff- and peer-led. “We had the Kinesiology Society at the University of Guelph-Humber hold a walk and had over 30 students attended that walk,” says Adam.
Bad weather can result in seasonal affective disorder, which is a form of depression that is related to the season changing. Physical activity like mood walks can help manage it.
“Exercise can help but even on a cold day if you are dressed properly you can go out,” Adam said. The walks are held during all weather conditions even in the winter. “we won’t go outside on a day like this but we will still do hall walking,” says Adam.
The walks feature themes such as chickadee and snowshoe walks
“There is a big barrier in going outside whether it’s lack of motivation or they are just feeling intimated so having these themes to draw people in and knowing that they are guided by someone it is more motivating,” says Williamson.
The walks are accessible for people with mobility devices and other accessible needs, Williamson said “we have lots of places to be explored for people with mobility devices but beyond that if it’s a matter of not being able to walk far we do have many beautiful areas around the building.”
The mood walks occur every Monday at 1:10 pm, Wednesdays at 12:10 pm and Fridays at 11 am.
Image courtesy Humber Arboretum Instagram