This summer, go outside for your health



With the weather warming and the sun shining, reap the benefits of taking your movement outside. Studies show the stress-relieving effect that outdoor movement, especially within nature, can bring. The Japanese even have a name for it: Forest Bathing, taking a walk in the forest for stress relief.

Here are some ideas to think outside the box:

  • Check out local trails for running, walking, or biking. You might have to drive to get there but then let the games begin. (For more information see Trails in PA.)
  • Institute some informal team building within your company, by joining a league such as kickball or ultimate Frisbee.
  • Several parts of the Appalachian Trail are near us, so you can meet people from all around the nation exploring the great trail that runs from Maine to Georgia.
  • Picnics are fun to gather family and friends, but setting up activity stations such as Bocci, Corn Hole, or volleyball can inspire movement and fun competition amongst guests.
  • Friday night might be the set-up for a great outdoor happy hour fest, but first inspire your comrades to do an activity (5K, hiking, biking route, after work swim) and save the finish line as your chosen location of relaxation celebration.
  • Teach your children “old school” games to limit screen time indoors such as TV tag, Freeze tag, Hide-and-Seek, or Hopscotch.
  • Pool time doesn’t necessarily have to be spent floating your day away. Take this time to do ground activities like running, jumping jacks, and high knee lifts in the pool to limit the amount of stress on your joints but adding resistance and intensity due to the water.
  • Instead of heading to the movies for a date, take it outside for a competitive game of miniature golf, or even the driving range to add some playful competition, movement and skill building.
  • Take your dog walking to a new level, with more play time in the yard or dog park. Think more agility training or fetch to let your fur baby run wild!

Some things to remember:

  • Always lather up with SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. If you are in the sun for more than two hours, reapply! Reapplication is made a lot easier with the spray sunscreens.
  • Protect your eyes with sunglasses that have UVA/UVB ray protection. Even if it is cloudy!
  • Wear protective clothing with SPF built in or even selecting light colored clothes.
  • Seek shade when you can especially during the hours of 10 am to 2 pm when the sun is at its strongest!
  • HYDRATION! Sip water often and tune into your thirst signals to avoid dehydration and not overhydrate either.

Love the movement you do and take it to the next level by simply moving outdoors!


Gina McDonald serves as the Senior Health Coach for Capital BlueCross. In this role, Gina is the primary health education consultant for Capital BlueCross, principal facilitator for Empower (weight management program), and central Health Coach/Personal Trainer for Capital BlueCross. Ms. McDonald also supports and initiates community-oriented health education activities by serving as a Capital BlueCross representative at community sponsored events. Gina received her B.S. in Dietetics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA, and her M.S. in Exercise Science and Health Promotion from California University of Pennsylvania, California, PA. She is an ACSM certified Exercise Physiologist, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and a FiTOUR Certified Indoor Cycling Instructor. Photo submitted by Capital BlueCross