The sun was shining and the temperature was hot as runners and walkers got ready for the second annual MHAS Fun Run on the morning of August 25 at Saskatoon’s Diefenbaker Park. The event is a run, jog or walk organized by Saskatoon Health Region’s Mental Health and Addiction Services staff to promote the benefits of being active, setting training goals and eating healthy as well as to raise awareness of mental health and addictions. More than 220 people participated, and of those, about 50 people self-identified as users of the mental health-care system.

MHAS Fun Run“We all know the benefits of a healthy lifestyle,” says organizer and RN Dawn Mueller. “Unfortunately, for people who have a mental illness or an addiction as well as chronic illnesses like diabetes, each day is a challenge. Healthy lifestyle practices contribute to our quality of life and assists in improving our ability to cope with everyday stressors. We wanted to emphasize that positive message at the Fun Run.”

sEP_11_mhas_funrun_2Physical activity is recognized as a key element in building and maintaining our emotional and mental health. Exercise has been proven to help reduce depression and anxiety; even five minutes of aerobic activity can stimulate anti-anxiety effects. Alterations in mood, including tension, fatigue and anger are all positively affected by exercise. Other positive effects include a boost in self-esteem, an increased ability to think and to reason, and an improved memory.

Sep_11_MHAS_funrun_3Nutrition is also a key element in mental health. What we put on our plates acts as a building block for overall health. Vitamin deficiencies can present as depression and cause mood swings, agitation and anxiety as well as numerous physical problems – and exacerbate symptoms for those who are already experiencing mental illness and addictions.

Sep_11_MHAS_FUNRUN_4“Thank you to all our participants, volunteers and sponsors,” says co-organizer Eileen Zaba. “You helped make this a very special day for all of us and helped raise awareness about this very important subject.”