Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, Healthy Life
Micah Reimer hikes the Abby Grind regularly. It’s a short but challenging climb, taking the hiker up a steep climb, gaining 320 metres in about 2 kms ending at a viewpoint over looking the fertile fields of the Fraser Valley. Six years ago, Micah couldn’t imagine doing a hike like this – not just because his body was out of shape but because his mind was out of shape as well. It was his mental health that motivated Micah to start moving.
“I had mastered quitting things that weren’t healthy for me and decided to adopt a new and healthy habit instead. So I took to the hills,” he remembers. “I decided that I needed to take on a challenge and took to the hills to start working my body into shape. When I did that, something amazing happened.”
Micah is a community mental health worker with Communitas Supportive Care Society. He also lives with depression. As a mental health professional, Micah understood that exercise would help with his mental health but he didn’t appreciate this truth until he began to hike in earnest. His body was slow to react but that wasn’t the surprise – he had expected that. The surprise was the immediate impact that movement had on his mental well-being.
“The benefits of physical activity were astounding,” he says. “As my mind got healthy, it started to talk differently to me. It started saying encouraging words, words of pride and appreciation. I responded in positive, encouraging ways.”
Micah also discovered that being active gave him space to think without being distracted. When the body is tired from healthy living, the mind is often too tired to have unhealthy thoughts. The benefits continued to grow.
“I started making allies who were all at unique stages of a similar quest, who all played a role as a continued source for strength,” he says. “The most impactful motivation, however, came from within, that self-determination was the most effective and powerful driving force for change”
Micah incorporates recreational therapy into his practice as an essential tool for individuals struggling their mental health but he isn’t flippant when encouraging others to choose physical activity. He knows how challenging it is. He knows that it requires hard work and determination.
“Getting started is the most difficult part for me. I never want to start exercising,” he says. “But when I don’t feel like going out, I remind myself that I have never felt depressed during the most fatiguing part of my hikes. I’ve never regretted time spent exercising.”
His most inspired moments have occurred when he has encountered that looming invisible wall that makes one want to give up and turn around. When he has found the strength and mental fortitude to break through those walls, that is when he has his most productive thinking. Micah has truly discovered that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind, and it has been life changing.