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Photo of Quitte Creek, Annville PA

My wife and I knew it was time to try something else when there was nothing left to binge watch on Netflix, and Alexa said, “What do you want, now? I’m busy.”

We needed to get outside, but we also needed to stay safe in the midst of COVID-19.

We like to call ourselves hikers, which for us means parking  our car at an Appalachian Trail entrance and walking about two miles, turning around, walking back, and congratulating ourselves that we didn’t have to call anyone for help. A hike turned out to be just what we needed. Actually, what’s important is not that we hiked, it’s that we broke the couch potato pattern.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says that being outdoors is good health care and self care — but recommendations for social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus still apply.

DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said in a press release, “Outdoor activities are a great idea to relieve stress and as immunity boosters, but they should not include exposure to high-touch surfaces or other groups of people — we need to spread out.”

Dunn said the best advice to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to stay at home, but, outdoor activity, such as walking, hiking, or running is allowed — if social distancing is maintained.

Some tips for avoiding groups of people outdoors include: 

  • If you have a yard, spend time there outdoors every day.
  • If possible, take a walk around your neighborhood with the people in your family, as long as you can stay six feet away from neighbors.
  • Choose a less busy time of day, such as early morning.
  • Find a local park or trail that offers enough space for social distancing. Some municipalities have closed local parks to protect visitors and employees, so check the status of the park before you go. If the park is open, bathrooms and water fountains likely will not be, so plan ahead.
  • There also are more than 12,000 miles of trails in Pennsylvania, most of which remain accessible during this period. Find a nearby trail at trails.dcnr.pa.gov.

The result… We returned home refreshed and ready to resume the new normal. What we learned…When we’re at home, we tend to bury our heads in our phones, tablets, or TV. We talked on the trail. To each other. Real grown up conversation. Bottom line…there’s nothing wrong with Netflix, but for the sake of your health and your sanity, there’s something to be said for getting out of the house while we wait for the all clear whistle.

Audio: Getting Outside During COVID-19