Kootenay Boundary Division of Family Practice

Community Health Feature

Outdoor Activity:  A Prescription for Mental Wellness & Resilience


KB Division Stories & News, April 2021 |  Outdoor Activity: A Prescription for Mental Wellness & Resilience with Dr. Mark


As a local family physician, Dr. Mark Szynkaruk knows a thing or two about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle in supporting our overall health.

In fact, he’s passionate about it. 

He also knows that it’s not always easy (especially given the realities of life during a global pandemic!). That’s why his approach is to provide patients with support and inspiration to incorporate physical activity into everyday life - wherever they’re at in the journey.

This is especially important right now. “What I’m seeing very commonly is amplified fear and anxiety, increased mental health concerns, and the stress of financial worries. We are asked to ‘stay home’, yet often this results in us being less active which has a negative impact on our mental health and physical wellness”.

Dr. Mark’s Prescription: Unplug & Get Moving Outdoors

"Physical activity has so many proven benefits including improved mood, better sleep, and even inspiring us to make better dietary choices". Dr. Mark recommends spending time being active outdoors every day. 

Research shows that adults need 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each week to maintain overall health. When you break it down, that’s just over 20 minutes a day. Doable, but life can get in the way. 

“Everyone is at a different place in their journey to incorporate physical activity into their day – and that’s ok – start where you’re at.

Beginning a new routine can result in discomfort when our bodies aren’t used to regular exercise. Don’t give up, you can move past that and reap the benefits.

The great news is, no matter your age or fitness level, you can use physical activity as a powerful tool to feel better".


Dr. Mark’s Top 4 Quick Tips:

1. Start slow. Set realistic expectations for yourself. Maybe you’re getting out for a daily walk, maybe you haven’t exercised in quite a while – wherever you’re at is ok – start there.

2. Grow that habit. Taking consistent small steps helps to build a routine.

3. Give yourself credit. Stay positive and give yourself credit as you keep moving forward.  

4. Keep it fun and enjoyable. In whatever way works for you - put on some tunes, take in the sights and peace of nature. Know that whatever activity you choose will have benefits and time spent outdoors helps us feel more connected. 



His inspiration...

So, what’s Dr. Mark’s favorite way to get active?

It’s a hike with his three-month and 20-month-old boys in tow.

“I may feel tired at first – but once I get out there, after about 10 minutes, I have more energy and it feels good. The best part: the kids got some fresh air and mom got a nap!”



Dr. Mark Szynkaruk has been practicing family medicine for four years in Kootenay Boundary, where he resides with his wife and two young boys. Dr. Szynkaruk was one of five physicians recognized in BC in 2020 with a ‘My Family Doctor Award’ for excellence in patient care. His practice includes family medicine, emergency medicine and addictions work through mental health. He is dedicated to supporting his patients in preventative health measures and promoting healthy lifestyle choices as a tool to strengthen all aspects of health.


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