We know about the power of exercise to elevate endorphins and other “feel good” hormones.
But what about the other ways recreation boosts our mental health?
“The last year and a half has been a major world-wide experiment where recreation and our ability to exercise has changed to a format that reduces our ability to interact with people,” reflects Lisa Banks, Health and Fitness Programmer at Saanich Commonwealth Place.
“We missed that social connection, our sense of belonging,” Lisa explains. “Recreation is more than the sport or the physical activity and the last 18 months really highlighted how important social connections are for us.”
While more people used the pandemic health protocols to discover local parks, for example, access to many of the group activities that give us joy, from a favourite fitness class to weekend skating to waterfit at the pool, were gone.
Today, with all provincial health protocols in place, recreation centres are again providing those opportunities to connect, much to the delight of patrons!
“For people who are isolated at home, who use that waterfit class or pickleball game as a form of social time, the social aspect of the activity can be more important than the physical aspect,” Lisa says.
Others may be missing work connections that Zoom calls just can’t replace. “We are social creatures and we need these connections to thrive.”
Saanich Recreation’s emphasis on creating a warm, welcoming environment for people of all ages and abilities is a vital part of that for many people.
“You belong here,” Lisa says. “You can go to the rec centre and feel like it’s your social time, too.”
Recognizing that it can sometimes be hard to motivate ourselves to exercise and many people have changed activities in the past year, Lisa suggests that starting small is a great way to begin. Programs exist for almost every level of participant, beginner to advanced.
Saanich Recreation’s Continuous Access Pass makes it easy to try out activities like swimming and skating, as well as lots of reserved drop-in programs across all four recreation centres – 59 each week! Invite a friend for a spin around the rink or try out a new activity or two and see what you enjoy.
An updated, simplified version of the former Access Pass, the Continuous Access Pass ranges from $20 for children and youth to $40 for adults, renews monthly and can be cancelled at any time, and opens the door to so many spontaneous activities, from basic yoga to cycle classes to pickleball. Families can purchase their pass for just $80 per month. Find an easy-to-follow online instruction manual here.