June is National Great Outdoors Month
On June 5, 2019, the US Senate officially designated June as “Great Outdoors Month.”
Since 2008, governors across the United States have joined in designating June as a month to celebrate the United States’ great outdoors. And what better place to celebrate than in upstate New York?
Upstate New York has 46 high peaks to climb - hence the bumper sticker ‘46er’ seen around the Capital Region. Taking a day trip to these mountains is such a fantastic way to enjoy the views the Empire State has to offer. I speak from experience when I say these views are breathtaking year-round.
Hiking is also a fantastic workout! Climbing a mountain can be great for your glutes (buttocks), hamstrings (back of legs), and quads (front of legs.) Hiking can also be a total body workout on more difficult mountains; some destinations are almost a total vertical climb. Some challenging peaks have ropes installed, but there is usually plenty of branches and rocks to hang onto.
If you are new to hiking, I recommend doing more accessible mountains first. For example, Shelving Rock Falls in Lake George is very popular. Adirondack.net has a list of easy hikes for beginners here.
Check out the short clip below from Shelving Rock, Summer 2020.
The United States is also home to some beautiful beaches. Whether you’re near the coast and can visit the ocean or live inland and visit lakes, our country, including New York State, has an extensive list of beaches to enjoy.
One of the best places is Green Lakes State Park outside Syracuse in Fayetteville, New York. This lake looks like it’s from a tropical island. The biggest downside is that it is jam-packed in the summer as everyone around the Northeast wants to visit this gorgeous area. But it’s worth checking out.
Visiting a beach also has many incredible benefits. I speak for most people when I say sitting at the beach is the best way to de-stress. Beach days are also a great way to soak up some vitamin D, get a better night’s sleep and even sweat out some toxins.
Sand is also a natural exfoliant. So lying or walking on sand can have several health benefits. Recent studies have shown when we connect to the Earth, like walking barefoot outside on natural surfaces like grass, sand, or any natural habitat, we can feel re-energized. According to the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), “emerging scientific research has revealed a surprisingly positive and overlooked environmental factor on health: direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the Earth.”
The Earth gives us energy and can even help relieve mental and physical health issues. I will speak more on this in my next blog.
The United States has excellent biking trails. Biking can be safer on rail trails than in the streets, and upstate New York has some great courses!
Biking is not only great for cardiovascular health but also builds endurance. Biking or cycling is also a high-calorie burner. However, it’s easier on the joints compared to running. Cycling also builds strength and can help increase balance.
Of course, rail trails can also be used for walking and running. As much as I love running, I have come to use cycling more for my cardio to give my knees a rest. What I have seen as a trainer is that many people who run all their lives tend to have more hip, knee, and ankle issues as they age. Unfortunately, many of my older clients have no choice but to bike or do the elliptical machine in a fitness center.
Whether with a friend, significant other, or alone, camping is a great way to live ‘off the grid’ for a few days and enjoy nature. I find camping most enjoyable in the summer and fall, although some people love it any season!
When camping, make sure to follow the rules of the grounds, stay safe and pack all food into your car at night to avoid attracting bears. Most campgrounds in upstate New York have beaches and trails to enjoy as well. As a true upstater, I believe there is nothing compared to sitting by a fire roasting marshmallows listening to nature while hanging with friends.
You can read more about New York’s campsites here.
I am sure I have not covered even half of what you can do to celebrate Great Outdoors Month. But as a trainer, I strongly urge everyone to enjoy our state’s outdoor features, artificial or natural. Going outside and connecting with nature is one of the best things you can do for self-care.