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Outdoor Fitness: A Step Toward Solving the Mental Health Crisis at Canadian Universities


Mental health concerns are prevalent in the minds of Canadian college students. A recent survey found that 80% of Canadian college students feel “overwhelming anxiety,” and 70% experience hopelessness. As university leaders look for ways to alleviate the mental and emotional strain, one solution may be outdoor fitness equipment and workout areas.

The College Experience Isn’t Always What You Expect

Many people consider college to be the best time of their lives. Young adults find a new sense of freedom when they move away to university, but that newfound adventure often comes at an emotional price.

Studies show that:

  • 70% of students gain weight during college.
  • 50% of students report their mental health to be below average.
  • 64% of students stopped pursuing their higher education due to poor mental health.

One way universities in Canada are addressing this issue is with indoor fitness equipment and training programs. Unfortunately, due to overcrowding, pandemic-related issues, and other concerns, these indoor gyms can't always meet the needs of every student.

Benefits of Campus Outdoor Fitness Equipment

Colleges across Canada utilize outdoor spaces on campus to help students be more active and ease some of the worry and anxiety they face. When people exercise outside, they are more likely to exercise longer and burn more calories.

Outdoor spaces provide more vitamin D exposure from the sun, improving mental health issues such as depression. This is especially important for college students considering their days mainly consist of staying indoors for study and lectures.

Exercising outdoors improves mental clarity as students connect with the environment. Marc G. Berman, a psychologist, published studies on how nature enhances memory and improves the mood of those who suffer from depressive disorders.

95% of college counselors report that mental health concern is growing on their campus. With this in mind, students need the benefits of outdoor equipment now more than ever. At the University of Alberta, students now have access to an outdoor gym.

Designed by Park N Play Design, it includes many durable, weather-resistant pieces of GameTime outdoor fitness equipment.

Outdoor Fitness Promotes Positive Socialization

Aside from improved physical and mental health, students who participate in outdoor exercises experience a greater degree of socialization. The social culture at an indoor gym is often very private. People put on headphones, stare straight ahead and push through their workout.

Outdoor gyms and fitness equipment encourage people to connect. Students connect with other people they might not see in class or elsewhere on campus. Studies show more social college students see improved mental health and are more likely to stay in school.

Make a Difference in Students’ Lives

Universities across Canada are working hard to help students adjust to college life. They recognize the difficulties and stressors they face. One way to address the growing mental health crisis is promoting outdoor exercise.

Studies confirm taking your workouts outdoors can improve mental health, enhance socialization, and reduce depression. Investing in your campus recreation and fitness programs with outdoor fitness equipment can play a significant role in improving the quality of life for students.

To learn more, contact the GameTime outdoor fitness expert in your area.