Helping tweens discover that exercise is medicine for the heart, soul, and everything in between
Many Canadians are most familiar with my work as ParticipACTION’s Active Living Ambassador and author of the organization’s popular physical activity blog. Indeed, I have a wonderful career that enables me to work with a variety of clients and to combine my twenty years of public relations, communications, and organizational leadership experience, with my passion for healthy, active living.
I’m also a mom to two wonderful girls, ages 15 and 12. My eldest can’t wait to get her driver’s license and is starting to look at universities, while my youngest is a soccer, tennis, volleyball and basketball fanatic who is counting down the days until she heads to her camp in Muskoka. She’s a kid who “craves” camp all year long and would trade city living for a permanent and quiet lakeside retreat in a heartbeat. From a very young age in fact, she’s recognized that she’s happiest when she’s outdoors, interacting with nature, and away from the noise, congestion and bustle of city life. I’m thrilled that at such a young age, she’s made the connection between spending time in a green space and physical and mental wellness. In fact, research suggests that spending time outdoors, particularly “active” time, can be as effective a treatment for mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety, as some medications.
And so now that I’ve broached the subject of exercise as medicine, I thought I’d share another important discovery – this time made by my eldest daughter who like many tweens and teens, sometimes feels a little overwhelmed with all she has on her plate – school, friendships, relationships, her future, family commitments, a busy social life, finding time to ‘chill,’ upcoming exams, and more. It’s funny… though there are times I wish I could turn back the clock to my younger, wrinkle-free years, my teen years aren’t ones I’d want to do over – they were tough.
With that said, and moving on to my older daughter’s “important discovery,” I’m thrilled to share that she’s found and adopted a healthy means of managing the overload, stress and occasional anxieties that so many teens (and all of us) experience: SWEATING IT OUT!
Despite my mantra of don’t get angry, or even… get active, and despite the fact I find exercise an incredibly effective tool for managing stress, worry, and my own “bad” days, the connection between working out and mental health wasn’t as clear for her as that of working out and physical health. Though she’s been heavily into jazz and hip-hop dance for over 10 years, she’s found that running outdoors (green space + exercise = happiness + health) trumps everything else. She finds pleasure in disconnecting from everything (other than her ear buds and music) and in watching the world go by as she runs. She’s discovered that running gives her energy and confidence. She’s discovered that running helps her focus on the ‘here and now’ while letting her cares melt away or helping to put them in perspective.
Happily, she’s also introduced a number of her friends to the social fun and physical and mental health benefits of running. Several days a week, she’ll come home from school, dump her school bag, and within minutes and a few clicks on her device, have a running date with friends lined up. Our house is usually the group meeting point and I enjoy watching them head off together, often teasing each other or offering words of encouragement. What thrills me most is that my daughter and some of her friends have made a connection with the potential to serve them well throughout life: exercise is medicine for the heart, soul, and everything in between.
About Catherine Cameron
Catherine is a unique professional who divides her time between her two passions: communications and organizational management, and fitness, health and wellness. She has over 20 years of experience as a communications professional and works with an impressive roster of Canadian organizations, businesses and brands. Also a personal trainer, and having led fitness classes for over 25 years, Catherine believes in role modeling an active, healthy lifestyle for her daughters (ages 12 and 15) and for Canadians of all ages and abilities. Learn more at www.catherinecameron.net.