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Hike in the forest

May 2 - October 31, 2022Step Into Nature
Healthy Hikes

Hiking women taking selfie

Join the Healthy Hikes challenge and take a hike at a Conservation Area near you!

Every year from May to October, the Step Into Nature Healthy Hikes campaign challenges Ontarians to take a hike at Conservation Areas so they can enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of being in nature.

Recent research shows that exposure to the natural world has tremendous benefits to our health, reducing stress and promoting healing. In 2021, more than 10 Million people visited Conservation Areas across Ontario.

Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities collectively own and operate over 500 Conservation Areas and more than 300 of them are accessible to the public. They play an important environmental, educational and recreational role in Ontario, and contribute to the physical and mental well-being of over 10 million visitors annually. Hidden within these natural gems are lakes, rivers and streams, wetlands, sand dunes, beaches, waterfalls, caves, forests, natural heritage sites, and more. Plan your visit and #StepIntoNature #Healthy Hikes!

Family Hiking

#stepintonature

Share your hike with us!

Visit a Conservation Area

Snap a selfie or nature image

Share it on social media with hashtags #StepIntoNature and #HealthyHikes

Tag Conservation Ontario in your post

2022 Healthy Hikes Toolkit

Healthy Hikes Scribble

Try These Restorative Activities At Conservation Areas

Hiking

The great thing about hiking is that it can be done alone or in a group of any size and it doesn’t require any serious equipment aside from sturdy shoes or boots. Get moving and go!

Yoga

During the warmer months, join Yoga in the Park classes at participating Conservation Areas. Or, grab your mat, water bottle and sun protection, and get your downward dog on or practice your sun salutation outdoors. Namaste.

Forest Therapy Walks

Forest Therapy or “Shinrin-yoku” means spending time in nature that invites healing interactions. This requires mindfully moving through the landscape in ways that cultivate presence, opening all the senses and actively communicating with the land. These walks are a slow and mindful experience that can combine walking, sitting, standing or laying down. The walks are typically one kilometre or less and range in duration from two to three hours. Forest Therapy is currently being offered by the following Conservation Authorities: Cataraqui Region, Credit Valley, Kawartha, Quinte, and Toronto and Region.

Nature Is Self-Care

Did You Know?

International Self-Care Day is celebrated annually on July 24. In a nutshell, self-care is anything you do to take care of yourself so you can stay physically, mentally, and emotionally well. Its benefits are better physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being. 

Take 15 Minutes just for you

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario, a self-care task should not be big or complicated – in fact, when energy and resolve is low, it’s important to make it as simple as possible. This is why they’re offering – simple 15 minute ideas to help you feel better.

  • Take 15 minutes to help with burnout
  • Take 15 minutes for your mental health
  • Take 15 minutes for your emotional health
  • Take 15 minutes for your physical health
  • Take 15 minutes for your social health
  • Take 15 minutes for your spiritual health

We challenge you to unplug, disconnect and to recharge by spending time in nature, hiking or doing one of your favourite outdoor activities.

Benefits of Trees

Research has linked tress to the following benefits:

  • Protecting Biodiversity
  • Reducing Stress
  • Reducing Rates of Cardiac Disease, Strokes and Asthma Due to Improved Air Quality
  • Reducing Obesity Levels
  • Managing Stormwater
  • Increasing Property Value
  • Filtering Pollution
  • Cooling City Streets

Top Five Benefits of Trees

The Benefits of Trees (graphic)

Pathways to a Greener, Healthier Tomorrow

Conservation Ontario is a member of the EcoHealth Ontario collaborative of professionals in the fields of public health, medicine, education, planning, and the environment who are working together to increase the quality and diversity of the urban and rural spaces in which we live.

There is growing evidence and awareness of the benefits that healthy ecosystems provide to the health and well-being of our communities. Yet the challenges we face include:

  • Intensifying climate change impacts
  • Increasing prevalence of physical and mental health issues
  • There is unequal access to the availability of good quality Greenspaces
  • We continue to see loss and degradation of greenspaces’ natural features and functions
  • Public policy to address these challenges is limited

The shared vision of EcoHealth Ontario is that everyone benefits from the provision of well-distributed, high quality greenspace, is aware of its contributions to health and well-being, and has access to its benefits.

What is Greenspace?

Public spaces such as parks, conservation areas, greenways, trails, urban and rural forests, street trees, community gardens, school grounds, shorelines and ravines

Private and Institutional spaces such as gardens, rooftops, cemeteries, golf courses and outdoor spaces associated with businesses, hospitals, care homes and universities

Greenspaces provide multiple benefits including economic, environmental, social and public health.

For more information visit EcoHealth Ontario.

How Healthy Ecosystems Contribute to Health and Well-being

Trees and Forests

  • Reduce smog and other forms of pollution by filtering out many airborne pollutants linked to heart disease, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, and cancer
  • Provide shade, reducing health risks from solar radiation
  • Provide natural air conditioning, reducing health risks from high summer temperatures
  • Absorb rainfall and snow melt, reducing flooding and recharging aquifers
  • Support recreation activities such as hiking, birdwatching, camping and picnicking
  • Capture carbon to help mitigate climate change

Wetlands, Lakes and Rivers

  • Filter sediment, nutrients and pollution, helping to clean our drinking water sources
  • Recharge groundwater and reduce risks of flooding
  • Moderate the local climate
  • Support recreation activities such as swimming, fishing and canoeing

Parks and Trials

  • Provide natural settings for outdoor recreation and physical activities
  • Provide contact with nature to support mental health and emotional well-being
  • Create attractive, liveable communities

Did You Know?


Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and psychological well-being.

Time in nature can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood.

Time spent in nature and being active outdoors is beneficial to children’s health and overall well-being and helps improve their resiliency, academic performance, and social skills.

How greenspace can boost your health

Healthy Hikes Poll

How long does it take to get a dose of nature high enough to make people say they feel healthy and have a strong sense of well-being?

Healthy Hikes Poll
How long does it take to get a dose of nature high enough to make people say they feel healthy and have a strong sense of well-being?

#HealthyHikes on Social

SVCA wants you to take a hike! Enjoy our properties with recreational trails. Remember to know your route in advance of your journey to keep you on the right path.

#SaugeenConservation #TakeAHike #HealthyHikes

This is fitting as many of us in southern Ontario are getting snow for the first time this week. Find a Conservation Area near you: https://ontarioconservationareas.ca/

#StepIntoNature #HealthyHikes #bundleup

Resources & Articles

Rockwood Conservation Area

Rockwood Conservation Area

With towering limestone cliffs, caves and glacial potholes, it’s no wonder that Rockwood Conservation Area is…

Rattray Marsh Conservation Area

Rattray Marsh Conservation Area

For all you nature lovers who are looking for a quick escape from your busy lives,…

Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area

Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area

From bold-faced cliffs to beautiful views of the escarpment, Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area offers a fun…

Old Baldy Conservation Area

Old Baldy Conservation Area

Looking for a different kind of adventure? If you love hiking and rock climbing, Old Baldy…

Eramosa Karst Conservation Area

Eramosa Karst Conservation Area

At Eramosa Karst Conservation Area, the park is filled with treasures including forests, meadows and underground streams.

Bruce's Mill Conservation Area

Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area

Looking for a fun place for a family outing? Head out to Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area in Stouffville…