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By Judy Sacher, Vice President of Operations
It’s usually pitch black when my alarm goes off on weekend mornings. For the past few years, I’ve spent nearly every Saturday and Sunday morning with a great group of friends, hiking and cycling. Our hikes range from five to fifteen miles, and bike rides range from fifteen to twenty miles, often with no particular destination in mind. No matter the season, the group I meet with every week enjoys nature and being off the beaten path.
During the pandemic, self-isolating was a struggle for me. I’m one of the millions of people in the US with a weakened immune system and had no choice but to isolate during the early days of COVID-19. The lack of socialization during that time was stressful, and I knew I needed to find a solution before I went bonkers.
The experts recommended doing outdoor activities with others as one of the best ways to stay healthy and keep a positive attitude. When you’re outside, there’s more fresh air, space, and sunlight, making it more difficult for COVID-19 to spread from person to person—plus, you get the endorphin rush from exercising. This was the perfect solution to my situation, so that’s what I set out to do.
A friend suggested I check out the social networking app Meetup, which is described as a place where people go to find like-minded friends with the same interests and hobbies. It’s also the most active online app to find hiking groups. Since I live near the Pennsylvania/Delaware border, I also searched the nonprofit Wilmington Trail Club (WTC) website for outdoor activities. WTC is an 80+-year-old organization with 700 current members, mainly from Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey. They offer hiking, cycling, cross-country skiing, plus other social activities like getting together for lunch or dinner.
That led to one of the best decisions of my life: developing a habit of socializing with others on a regular basis. Before the pandemic, I would hit the gym five days a week but rarely spoke with anyone. Now, I skip the gym and enjoy hiking and cycling with people I know will be my lifelong friends.
Throughout my life, I’ve been fascinated by people who always seem to be upbeat, happy, and everyday problems don’t seem to matter. How do they do it? Where do they find that positive attitude and such joy? I envied them.
Now I know their secret. They understand that socializing is an absolute must for good health, and when you add exercise to the mix—especially when it’s outdoors—it’s the ideal way to have fun and develop caring relationships.
Rain, snow, or sunny days…it doesn’t matter. Our time together on the trail and road has created connections that are, to me, invaluable and bring me true joy.
Group photos of our Meetup and WTC weekend rides, hikes, and walks: