Ask the Expert

Are there topics you'd like to learn about or subject matter experts you want to hear from?

>> Send us your suggestions.

Expert Q&A: How can you motivate someone to exercise to improve their mental health?

Jasper Smits, Ph.D., is co-director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at Southern Methodist University (SMU) and the co-author (with Michael Otto) of Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being (Oxford University Press, 2011). Minding Our Bodies talked to Jasper Smits about his research on exercise interventions for mental health and his techniques for motivating behaviour change.

Q: Tell us about your research background and what led you to publish your recent book.

Expert Q &A: How does exercise affect the brain?

An interview with Dr. John Ratey, the Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, a researcher, speaker and author of “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”. Dr. Ratey explains how exercise relates to the brain, an individual’s mental health and wellbeing. He answers a variety of questions on the topic, including the role of physical activity and mental healthcare sectors in leading others to exercise.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about you and how you came to write Spark?

Expert Q&A: Expert Q & A: What role can peers have in running and sustaining a physical activity program?

Tom Allen is a consumer/survivor who has made great strides to help his peers. After recognizing the difference physical activity made in his own life, he decided to form a group called PhACS – Physical Activity for Consumer/Survivors.

Q. Can you describe PhACS and its activities?

Expert Q&A: How do you organize a competitive race-walk to support mental health?

Every September since 2009, Minds in Motion - KW Walking Classic has gained momentum in bringing together the walking community with people with lived experience with mental illness. The event is successful in raising awareness in the walking community about mental health and in raising funds for walking shoes for participants in a diabetes prevention program, called People in Motion at Waterloo Regional Homes for Mental Health as well as other social services agencies in Waterloo Region. We have included insights on this competitive walking event from participant Robert de Boyrie, Chair and co-founder Sue Lewis and her husband Dave Lewis and People in Motion program coordinator, Gayle Parker.

Expert Q & A: What can be done to reduce sodium intake?

Dr. Kevin Willis, Director of Partnerships at the Canadian Stroke Network, speaks about how Canadians can kick the salt habit based on his work on the federal sodium working group.

Expert Q & A: How can physical activity be integrated into case management?

An interview with Chris Hill, a personal trainer and case manager, who engages clients through the Active Recovery approach at the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Cochrane Timiskaming Branch.  Active Recovery is not a program, so much as an approach to case management and community support that many staff can be involved in at some level. This approach is used to support clients who show an interest in improving their physical health.

Expert Q & A: How can client views be captured to help mental health settings become healthier places?

Photovoice was used to engage participants in Paul Gorczynski's research at the Faculty of Physical Education and Health, University of Toronto. His research looked at client perspectives on ways to increase physical activity and improve dietary behaviours among individuals with schizophrenia who are overweight or obese and who are taking antipsychotic medication.

Expert Q & A: How can a hospital exercise program serving a specific population reduce barriers?

An interview with Noemia Cerqueira, a mental health clinician at Toronto Western Hospital, who has created an exercise program for Portuguese-speaking women, recovering from mental illness.

Expert Q & A: What are some ways a program can integrate with the community?

An interview with Frankie O’Connor, Canadian Mental Health Association, Cochrane Timiskaming Branch, who describes her approach to “minding a community.”

Expert Q & A: How do I incorporate healthy-eating components into my program?

Learn from Karen Trainoff a registered dietitian about how healthy eating can be integrated into programming.