Our Path

Our Path

Meijän polku, “Our Path”, is a 30-year initiative promoting community health and wellbeing. Advocating the wellbeing of the Central Finnish population is focused on four themes: physical activityrestnature and community. Our Path strives for a more healthy and prosperous Central Finland by encouriging people to exercise and gain strength in forests which are in close neighborhood of all inhabitants. Our slogan is move and enjoy yourself in Central Finland.

According to the latest (2018) WHO data life expectancy of Finnish males and females is 78.8 and 84.2 respectively, which gives Finland a world ranking of 21. Although not a poor placement, several challenges still exist. Beside the persistence of traditional cardiovascular risk factors (i.e. sedentary lifestyle, obesity and smoking) factors related to a person’s quality of life, such as unvoluntary loneliness and anxiety, are becoming more prominent. Relaxing and/or exercising regularly (daily or several times a week) in a nearby forest could have a profound effect on both the traditional risk factors and wellbeing. Also, visiting the five Central Finlands national parks and very silent nature reserves, is encouraged, serving a source of most autenthic nature experience. However, because of their more remote location (within a distance of 50 km of each home), they are not plausible for daily visits.

Meijän polku is based on voluntary involvement of the active members, including professionals from the fields of health care, physical education, educational establishments and national instutute of parks&wildlife, and supported by organizations like Central Finland Health and Wellbeing EcosystemKeHO, Central Finland Health Care District, Central Finland Sport Federation, Jyväskylä University of Applied Science and University of Jyväskylä, LIKES Research Centre for Physical Activity.

Meijan polku aims on a slow, but long-lasting out-door life oriented behavioral change in the population. Time span is 30 years, beginning from 2017. Operational goals vary with different population segments (active/sedentary, young/old, healthy/people with chronic illnesses) and ongoing trends of society.  From 2020 onwards the health related use of local nature locations and forests is promoted among local population under two concepts Keski-Suomen terveysmetsä (Central Finland Health Forestsand Meijän metsät (Our Forests). The first one is steered towards health care organisations, and the second is for the total population of Central Finland.

At the same time tools for both municabilities and individual citicens are developed to make physical active lifestyle and physical exams more accessible for all. In the backgroud, the impact of these initiatives is investigated by academic researches from the local universities and Finnish National Institute of Wellfare. Also, for self-acting individuals and groups, different kinds of activity challenges like stair climbing, nature walks, biking and sauna are presented in Meijän polku-website (www.meijanpolku.fi/vuosikello). These challenges have been tailored for all seasons, for all weather conditions and they are free-of charge.