Ryerson is always bustling with initiatives to help support student engagement and well-being. Although it can be difficult to keep track of all of them and find the time to attend, one that you cannot miss is Mood Routes.
Mood Routes is a Ryerson Student Affairs initiative, in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mood Walks program, that encourages you to get outside not just for physical activity, but to de-stress, refocus, and re-ground.
Every Tuesday from 12-1:30pm we meet at the SLC Amphitheatre and we set out on a different accessible route to a nearby greenspace.
Here are 10 reasons why you need to join us on our next walk:
1. Vitamin D
During winter, less of the northern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun, resulting in the Earth being less exposed to the sun each day. The sun being our best source of Vitamin D is limited during this season. We take our walks in the afternoon while it is the warmest part of the day, and there is plenty of sunlight. Vitamin D is essential to maintaining a healthy immune system so that the body can increase resistance to diabetes, autoimmune disorders, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease. Deficiency of Vitamin D increases chances of osteoporosis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. The best way to get Vitamin D is from its natural source!
2. Improved Sleep
Do you find it difficult to fall asleep at night? Do you toss and turn for over half an hour unable to fall asleep? Mood Routes can help solve your sleep troubles, and you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time! Sleep patterns are regulated by the circadian rhythm which is an internal body clock. Circadian rhythms are naturally tied to the sun’s schedule. The circadian rhythm is altered when too much time is spent indoors away from natural light and excessive exposure to artificial light. St. Louis University School of Medicine found people need about 30-60 minutes of sunlight exposure to improve sleep patterns. Furthermore, nursing home residents who suffered from insomnia had less difficulty falling asleep after increasing time exposed to sunlight.
3. Improvement of Attention and Memory
If you’re finding it challenging to memorize formulas for your next calculus exam, or significant dates for your history midterm, you need to join us on our next walk! Several studies that have been done have concluded that fresh air, sunshine, and green spaces will increase attention span. The University of Michigan found that memory and attention of adults improved by 20% after interaction with nature. After every Mood Route walk that you embark on with us, you will return to your study desk with better attention and focus than what you left with.
4. You will feel happier
Does cold weather, assignments, or exams have you feeling a little down? Mood Routes is here to turn your frown upside down! Being outdoors has been scientifically proven to boost the levels of serotonin in your brain (the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter in your brain). Furthermore, nature increases activity in the parts of the brain that is responsible for empathy, emotional stability, and love. A group of Stanford University PhD students in 2015 conducted a study to analyze the effects of a 50 minute nature walk. The study found that the participants experienced less anxiety and higher self-esteem after their nature walk.
5. Discover Downtown Toronto
There are so many natural beauties in Toronto that are awaiting for you to discover. Every week Mood Routes departs on a different route and uncovers an untried gem in downtown Toronto. Places we have visited so far include Allan Gardens, Philosopher’s Walk via Queens Park, Peace Garden, Bamboo Forest, Riverdale Farm Ponds and Cabbagetown Alleyways. Other planned routes include Sugar Beach, Corktown Common, and Cloud Garden. Whether you have lived in Toronto all your life, or you are an international student, the routes you will embark upon with Mood Routes and the destinations you will reach will surely leave you captivated.
6. Connect with Awesome Members of the Ryerson Community
There are 38,000 students, 780 faculty members, and 1,700 administrative staff in the Ryerson community that you have yet to meet. Mood Routes is open to students of all programs, all faculty members, and all Ryerson staff. While joining us, you will have the opportunity to connect with a variety of Ryerson community members, while expanding your social as well as professional circle on campus.
7. Mental Well-Being Discussions with Professional Staff
Deena Kara Shaffer is a Learning and Transition Programs Specialist with Student Learning Support. She is currently obtaining a PhD, researching the impacts of nature-based learning strategies in higher education. During every Mood Route outing, Deena plants a few ‘seeds’ or ideas about how time in nature directly and positively impacts students’ academic experience, from decreasing stress to uplifting mood, restoring attention to supporting creative thinking. Mood Routes is a powerful strategy for improved well-being and scholastic success!
8. Accessible Routes
Ryerson Student Affairs values universal accessibility and has ensured that all routes taken are accessible. Whether you walk, roll, or use an assistive device, you can fully participate in our weekly adventures. Mood Routes has also incorporated many different senses that will be activated through seeing, smelling, and/or touching to ensure all participants are able soak the many benefits mother nature presents us.
Have you ever felt completely stuck on an essay, unable to string together another sentence? Or have you made countless attempts at the same econometrics question, and find you are unable to formulate the correct answer? You need to step away from your study desk and come join us on Mood Routes! Nature has been proven to reduce stress, rejuvenate physical energy, reduce anxiety, decrease stress hormones, lower heart rate, and much more. This is due to these benefits rebounding back to your mental health. Spending time in nature is not optional add-on to improve your life, it is crucial for your well being because we are hardwired to require time to relax and rest in natural environments.
10. It’s FUN!
Not only will you reap the many mental, physical, and spiritual benefits from Mood Routes, and make lasting connections with members of the Ryerson community, but you will have an amazing time embarking on enjoyable adventures. So, make sure you do not miss the next Mood Routes adventure!
For more information visit here.
Aysha Azeez is a Special Projects Assistant with Ryerson Student Learning Support. Currently, she is a 4th year student at Ted Rogers School of Management’s B.Comm degree program, majoring in Economics and Management Science.
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