There’s no question about it—the riverside, bicycle, and pedestrian trails of the Susquehanna Greenway are valued assets to our communities.

These trails offer opportunities to run, walk, bike, connect with the outdoors, catch up with friends, view wildlife, explore through photography, fish… and well, you get the idea. They offer a smorgasbord of opportunities to improve both your physical and mental wellbeing.

So in honor of National Wellness Month, let’s learn a little more about the health and wellness benefits associated with these treasured Susquehanna Greenway trails.

Focusing on active, healthy living opportunities isn’t just limited to this month and our region. In fact, “Health and Wellness” was identified as a key priority in the 2014-2019 Pennsylvania Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan conducted by the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).

In the words of Governor Tom Wolf,

“Outdoor activity can be a prescription for wellness and help our citizens combat chronic diseases and illnesses. Our local parks and programs can build solid communities and provide children opportunities to connect with nature. Trails, rivers and parks can create vibrant cities and towns and contribute to economic prosperity. And, as we create these spaces to recreate, we are also working to protect our natural resources for future generations.”

According to DCNR’s statewide survey, improving physical health and fitness, reducing stress, and improving mental health were among the top three benefits of outdoor recreation services as rated by residents.

The National Center for Environmental Health notes that spending active time outdoors has been proven to control your weight; reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancers; strengthen your bones and muscles; improve your mental health, mood, and your ability to do daily activities; and increase your chances of living longer.

If that isn’ t enough, walking or biking to trails and parks, and using them as a means to run errands or get to work, can even have a positive environmental impact. Alternative transportation such as these reduces air pollution, thus adding to overall quality of the air we breathe.

Just think—next time you need to go out on a local errand, is it walkable? Bikeable? Thanks to our Susquehanna Greenway trails, it couldn’t be easier to build physical activity into our daily routines.

In addition to the physical benefits, trails also provide opportunities to focus on your mental health.

Simply enjoying the outdoors on a leisurely stroll or even from a trailside bench can be beneficial in cleansing the mind of daily kinks and stresses. This passive time spent outdoors has been shown to reduce stress hormones by an average rate of 21% per hour.

Looking to get outdoors and take advantage of the physical and mental benefits of trails? Find a trail near you!

The Susquehanna Greenway Partnership (SGP) is committed to building connections along the Susquehanna River and encouraging communities and individuals to engage with the many outdoor opportunities along the Susquehanna Greenway that aid in perpetuating active, healthy lifestyles.