Free parking at Ken Reid Conservation Area for Bell Let’s Talk Day

By Lindsay Advocate

To recognize and support Bell Let’s Talk Day on Jan. 31, parking will be free at Ken Reid Conservation Area to encourage people to visit and take advantage of the health benefits of being in nature.

“The health benefits of being in nature and, in particular, treed areas, is good for people, of all ages,” explains Kristie Virgoe, director of stewardship and conservation lands at Kawartha Conservation, and a training forest therapy guide.

“In a series of double blind studies over several years in Japan, forest bathing or forest therapy, has been proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system and improve overall feelings of well-being,” Ms. Virgoe adds.

In September 2010, Bell Let’s Talk began a new conversation about Canada’s mental health. At that time, most people were not talking about mental illness.

But the numbers spoke volumes about the urgent need for action. Millions of Canadians, including leading personalities engaged in an open discussion about mental illness, offering new ideas and hope for those who struggle, with numbers growing every year.

“Mental health is something that touches all of us,” says Virgoe.

“Whether it is a friend or relative or ourselves, we need to do more and be supportive and inclusive of those who are faced with the challenges of mental health issues.

By inviting people to Ken Reid Conservation Area, or any of our conservation areas, and introducing them to the health and wellness benefits of nature is one way we can give back as an organization.”

Ongoing studies and science have shown that trees, wood and plants emit an essential oil called phytoncide, which helps protect them from germs and harmful insects.

Phytoncides however, not only helps the trees, but inhaling the essential oils in nature actually improves immune system function in humans.

“One study conducted in Japan over a multi-year period showed that spending just 20 minutes in nature boosted the immune system by as much as 54 percent,” said Ms. Virgoe.

“That’s great news for residents locally. Having wonderful green space and forests and trails at Ken Reid Conservation Area, as well as our other conservation areas in the Kawartha watershed provides ample opportunity for individuals, couples and families to experience first-hand the tremendous benefits of walking in the woods.

“We have a wonderful space here at Ken Reid Conservation Area,” added Ms. Virgoe. “And a really wonderful opportunity to connect more people with nature, and the health benefits of nature.”

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