Getting outside right now, especially on local trails, can provide a wealth of benefits to your body and mind—once you get in the habit. Some of the most common trail activities—biking, skating, running—can burn over a thousand calories in an hour’s time. And being out in nature—especially right now, as more people are staying home and cool weather is making people less inclined to step outside—can strengthen your resilience and mental health.
Through our national Trail Moments initiative, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is inviting everyone—both new and tried-and-true trail users—to share these special moments of connection and demonstrate what trails mean to each of us right now. Here, we’ve collected a small bouquet of #TrailMoments from people across the country; we hope you are as inspired as we are!
The beauty of autumn also means cooler temperatures, earlier sunsets and sometimes less-than-ideal weather. For the many of you who picked up biking for the first time this summer or returned after a long hiatus, the thought of braving colder weather while riding might feel intimidating.
Moving across the country during the pandemic was one of the scariest—but also most exciting—things we've ever done. Along the way, we stopped at several rail-trails. Running on trails was one of the best and most enjoyable ways to see the country safely.
Vincent Viars is running for his life. Both his mother and one sister had suffered from heart problems and diabetes, passing away in their 60s. Another sister had triple bypass surgery and several stents. Overweight and living a sedentary lifestyle, Viars’ gnawing fear of dying grew as he approached middle age, so he decided to make a change with a health journey that began one literal step at a time.
As I contemplated how to incorporate a good cardio routine into my life, I challenged myself to create a structure that would not only help me and inspire others to stay committed, but also helped those more severely impacted by the pandemic. Hence, my blog Ride Bikes. Eat Local. was born.
While my moments on the trail can’t fix the systemic inequalities that women face, or the uphill climb many of us are facing during and after the pandemic, these moments on the trail can help me rebuild my resilience. And they are—as often as I can create them.
One significant way millions of Americans are addressing their mental health needs during the coronavirus is through frequent activity in the outdoors. In Lincoln, Nebraska, where I live, the city’s robust trail system has been packed with more cyclists, roller bladers, runners and walkers than I’d ever encountered before in a spring trail season.
Since the spread of the pandemic, RTC has worked to respond quickly to the needs of the community—from sharing early public-health guidance on ways to be active outdoors while practicing social distancing, to providing resources to support trail managers as they adapt to surges in trail use to keep people safe.
As Americans work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 across the United States, public health professionals continue to provide important safety guidance on engaging in outdoor physical activity. Experts are urging people to stay as close to home as possible when seeking places to be active in the outdoors, and to engage in physical activity on their own. They are also suggesting face coverings as a voluntary public-health measure. New guidelines from the CDC about the safe use of parks and outdoor recreation facilities reinforce these recommendations.
Here’s the latest on how to safely be outdoors in the midst of COVID-19.
Where trails are open—especially in areas where parks and other outdoor recreation facilities have closed—there has been an influx of new users and recognition that safe use and trail etiquette have never been so vital to the health of our nation.