Most people don’t exercise enough. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, only seven per cent of Canadian kids get 60-plus minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day, and about half of all men and women above age 12 are considered physically inactive.

“We spend billions of dollars on things like supplements or special diets, looking for that miracle cure all,” explains Dr. Michael Evans, a family physician and influential health educator and author (see also myfavouritemedicine.com/23-and-a-half-hours).

“We have a magic pill sitting right in front of us: activity. If we look at a wide range of problems that afflictour quality of life and our longevity – such as back pain, arthritis, depression, anxiety, heart disease, insomnia, type-2 diabetes or even cancer – activity can have a powerful treatment or preventive effect.”

A half-hour of exercise every day (or 150-plus minutes per week) can reduce the risk of many of these problems. For the millions of people who live in Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe, becoming active in the great outdoors is about as much commitment as an hour-long commute to work. The Greenbelt that surrounds the greater Toronto area boasts 1.8 million acres of countryside, about 7,000 farmers who produce everything from peaches to potatoes to poultry, and more than 10,000 kms of recreational trails.

Dr. Evans points out that any “green space” is inherently meant to be discovered, and that exploring Ontario’s Greenbelt can have three positive effects on wellbeing:

  1. “The Greenbelt is made for walking, hiking and biking, activities that are demonstrably good for your health.”
  2. “Emerging evidence suggests that being active in a beautiful ‘green’ environment might be better for you than being active in a plain ‘grey’ environment.”
  3. “By definition, greenbelts are somewhat hidden, and the act of discovering gorgeous new scenery puts my woes and stress into perspective.”

With those benefits in mind, check out these fantastic opportunities to get active in the Greenbelt:  

  • Great fishing, sandy beaches and 10 km of trails can be found year round at Valens Lake Conservation Area near Hamilton.
  • Halton’s Mount Nemo features one of the Niagara Escarpment’s best cliff ecosystems, including crevice caves and ancient cedars.
  • Find breathtaking views of the escarpment and Lake Ontario from the 10-km Lookout Trail in Grimsby’s Beamer Memorial Conservation Area.
  • Hikers, cyclists and horseback riders can explore more than 250 km of beautiful forest and bucolic landscapes along the Oak Ridges Moraine.
  • Old industrial mills and the throwback charm of the Village of Erin are threaded together by 15 km of serene walking trails.
  • Northeast of Wiarton, the Bruce’s Caves Conservation Area boasts wooded swamps and rock formations carved by post-glacial waves up to 8,000 years ago.

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