UAB Ph.D. says movement and time outdoors is critical for mental health

Mental Health Matters

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CBS 42 Living Local) – The Lakeshore Foundation Endowed Chair in Health Promotion and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, James H. Rimmer, Ph.D., recommends two ways all of us can improve our mental health: “green time” over screen time, and engaging in movement. 

“There have been studies that show you need at least two hours a week in the outdoors, around green space, around trees, flowers, plants. When you returned that element of life, mental health goes through the roof. It improves markedly,” Rimmer said.

“Movement is an essential part of optimizing your health and well-being, and also your mental health,” added Rimmer. “Movement reduces depression and improves anxiety disorders. The biological effect of movement is astounding.”

And movement, Rimmer said, does not necessarily mean exercising in a traditional gym or running five miles. “Anything that makes you happy and gets your blood flowing counts,” said Rimmer.

For people living with a disability, it can sometimes be challenging to spend time outside and engage in movement activities. In comes MENTOR, funded under the CDC grant, NCHPAD.  

The National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability (NCHPAD) has launched a new program called MENTOR. The acronym stands for mindfulness, exercise, and nutrition to optimize recovery.  This new program focuses on individuals who have acquired a new disability, diagnosis, or have a congenital condition.

NCHPAD traditionally focuses on building inclusive communities, organizations, and networks to make facilities and programs more inclusive for people living with a disability. The 8-week MENTOR program works directly with people with disabilities.

“The goal of MENTOR is to reach people with disabilities in their homes. MENTOR is meant to get to the heart of what we need to do as a society, and that is to really look at the body, the mind, and the spirit,” said Rimmer. 

Rimmer also said the program could “reduce social isolation. Even though it’s virtual, it’s still much better than being completely isolated.”

At the end of the program, participants come away with new life skills and a $200 gift card. 

Do you think you could benefit from the MENTOR program or know someone that could? Or maybe, you might be able to offer your skillset that can help the program grow! 

“Anyone that wants to be part of the movement needs to contact Lakeshore, and we can figure out a way that they could have a roll using the talents that they’ve been born with to reach more people in our community. Let’s make Birmingham the most inclusive society and city in America,” said Rimmer.  For more information on The MENTOR program, click here.

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