HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Can exercise have a positive impact on mental health? According to one Athens man, the answer is yes, and his choice of exercise of nature walks.
Jalen Houston says what inspired his nature walks is fellowship. His True Roots nature walks movement is creating a safe place for individuals. "Creating a safe place where you, you know, you're using great discernment on. 'Okay, hey, I can open up to this person, right?' Because it all boils down to mental health."
Huntsville Psychotherapy and Counseling Services Certified Personal trainer and Trauma Informed Weight Trainer Sarah Gwin says when it comes to the impact that exercise has on our mental health, it's not just about exercise. "If we can just get moving, then we're able to process better. We're able to handle, problem-solve better. So, you know, when we're sitting a lot or we're in like in a traffic jam and we're just stuck there, you know, the one thing we'll just say is we're just stuck here. And the moment we start moving, we're like, oh, thank god, we're moving, right?"
It's the same thing with exercise.
Gwin says, "If we can just get out, we can get moving. We're immediately able that we have chemicals in our brain, dopamine, serotonin, all of those things start to work and function properly. And so with that, we're able to think clearer, have a healthier lifestyle, be happier, be able to problem solve. And so exercise is, I think, one of the most important things we can do for our mental health."
Houston says after attending his first hike in 2019, he was pondering really hard on life after college. "So I knew that I had to create my own thing, right? I wanted to have ownership of what it is that I wanted to do. So it came about when I created a brand. And the brand, again is True Roots, is an outdoor brand that grants individuals peace of mind, right? So with this brand, I knew that, okay, every weekend when we go on a hike, I want individuals to be able to be open, or open up about whatever it is. Along with that, you're getting a good workout, right? So when you put that all together, this is what we have."
Ryan Kaigler says he joined the True Roots movement in 2020 when everone was stuck at home during the panemic. "So we came with this idea, hey, let's try to get out the house somewhere that's safe, you know, and can all be safe from covid. and how about us go out in nature and walk? And so that's how it started. and it really just turned into a a weekly thing. We were able to just really just express our thoughts and what's going on, um, kind of detox from the real world and kind of get out in nature and God's creation."
Khalil Norman says these walks impact him personally because it allows time for true self reflection. "And then also just not only not do you necessarily need a group, but you need at least a couple of people, one or two people that you can really confide in and somebody that you can trust with things that you're going that's going on with you personally in your life and that, you know, because the whole reason you're coming out here is to be away from the noise."
All in all Houston says they want any and everyone to be apart of the True Roots movement because, "Health is the new wealth."
And Gwin says when we go outside, "Immediately our emotions and our state, our nervous system feels regulation. So any time you can add movement outside, hiking, exercising, inside or outside, in that kind of capacity, it is always, for me a benefit."