Opus Workspace Supports Cycling Across Ontario for Mental Health

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A Journey to Raise Awareness That Exercise is a Means to Mental Health

For 21 days this summer, Jessica VandenBussche will tackle a 3,000 kilometre trek across Ontario by bicycle. Her goal? To make Ontarians aware that exercise is an excellent option to treat those with mental illness.

Starting out in Thunder Bay on June 21, the 24-year old Kinesiology major will ride as far as 135 kilometres per day to spread her message. She hopes to stop along the way to give talks and lead fitness activities at schools, mental health units, fitness centres, and anyone else that will listen.

Mental illness accounts for 14% of the world's diseases. Nationally, 1/5 of Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Many more will be affected by it, through a loved one who suffers. There are many treatment methods, but, says VandeBussche, “there is no ‘best practice’ for treating mental illness. Medication is not always effective. And psycho-therapy is financially out of reach for many Canadians.” But VandenBussche points out there is one form of treatment that is free, accessible, sustainable and potentially highly effective: physical activity.

Balanced exercise has been proven to enhance brain function, mood and overall health. According to some doctors, physical activity can be more effective than therapy or medication:
-physical activity can help a person with depression learn new thinking strategies
-a person suffering from addiction has a better chance of staying true to their plan and avoiding the addicting habit, if they work out regularly
-physical activity can help someone with anxiety relax by releasing feel-good hormones. Community-oriented exercise can help everyone make friends and increase their support network

Although seeking professional help may still be necessary, exercise is an important aspect of the treatment plan and a very accessible and inexpensive way to get started. Jessica’s goal is to spread this message and hope in the future that mental health agencies and the medical profession will come together to implement fitness strategies when treating those with mental illness.

The northern leg of her journey will take her from Thunder Bay to Providence Bay from June 21 to the 29th.

June 21    Thunder Bay/Gravel river
June 22    Gravel river/Marathon
June 23    Marathon/Wawa
June 24    Wawa/Batchawana Bay
June 25    Batchawana Bay/Laird
June 26    Rest Sault Ste. Marie
June 27    Laird/Blind River
June 28    Blind River/Providence Bay

For a complete schedule and route map, please visit the website at
Questions can be directed to: Kelley McNamara 519-909-8966 kellby58(at)gmail(dot)com

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Larry Stevens

Kelley McNamara

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