Skip to main content

Military Health System

Tips for Enjoying Outdoor Activities as Summer Arrives

Image of People biking on a trail in protective gear. Biking is one of many great ways to maintain your readiness and stay fit while enjoying the outdoors with friends and family. In the summer, remember to wear proper attire and have plenty of water, sun protection, and bug spray with you. (Photo by Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Terry W. Miller, Jr.)

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Summer Safety

With summer officially arriving in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s time to get outside.

There are many safe ways to stay active, maintain readiness, and enjoy the outdoors.

Plus, “there's so much research on the effect that just being out in the sun and being out of doors and engaging in any kind of physical activity has on your mental health in general,” said Sara Morris, an ultra-trail runner and certified track coach in Fort Knox, Kentucky.

As an Army Reserve soldier, Morris understands the importance of engaging in activities that help maintain readiness while also reducing stress and having fun.

“As long as you're being safe, you can't beat the benefits,” she said.

For example, she suggests “doing things that may be different than what you do in the winter, like going biking, paddleboarding, swimming, and hiking are good ways to get outside in nature in the summer.”

Those types of activities are also “a way to get those feel-good endorphins,” she added.

“And those activities can oftentimes be done for free, which is also great.”

Region Specific Activities

Biking is another great sport, said Chuck Alfultis, the outdoor recreation manager for the Air Force Academy’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) program, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“Specifically, here in Colorado, it’s mountain biking. But any type of cycling and biking is excellent cardio,” he said. “It’s a way to get your fitness, get you out in the sun in the nice weather.”

And depending on where you may be stationed, there are other activities people can do, like rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and other water sports, like canoeing and kayaking.

“Outdoor recreation has gained popularity in the last couple of years because of COVID, he said. “During COVID, it was a way to get out of your house. You didn't have to be around people, so outdoor activities and getting back out to nature really exploded.”

Alfultis highlighted that every military installation has MWR programs and services for service members, their families, military retirees, veterans with service-connected disabilities, and current and retired Department of Defense civilian employees and other eligible participants.

The MWR programs can include organized group activities as well as guidance for activities and events you can take advantage of in your location.

Safety Outdoors

Morris highlighted that in the outdoors, “the big thing is sun protection and hydration.”

Being aware of the heat and the way that your body sweats throughout the day are important factors to keep in mind, she said.

“Making sure you're wearing UPF clothing [which indicates how much UV radiation a fabric allows to reach your skin], making sure you're putting on sunscreen at the proper intervals, and making sure that you have plenty of water,” she said.

For example, when she goes hiking with her family, she makes sure to carry an extra bottle of water to ensure there’s enough for everyone.

“We'll each have our own water bottle, plus one extra just in case the activity takes a little bit longer than we intended,” she said. “We also always have extra sunscreen to put on our faces and make sure we have hats on our heads.”

Another factor to remember is ticks. In Kentucky, like many other places, “it's been a really bad tick season” this year, she said. “So, you're going to want to have some bug spray to protect yourself and you're also going to want to check yourself when you get home to make sure that you don't have any ticks on your body, on your children's body, on your animal's body to protect yourselves from that as well.”

Morris noted the military community’s access to the MilTICK program, which allows service members and DOD beneficiaries, including contractors and DOD civilians, to submit their ticks for identification and testing without needing to visit a clinic or order a test kit.

“So, if you do find a tick, and it did bite you, you can submit that tick to be tested to see if it's going to affect you,” said Morris. “You can also generally take it to the clinic on post or the vet on post and they can test for your animals as well.”

Some Precautions

Other precautions include water safety, being aware of the weather and the wild animals common to your location.

In terms of water safety, Morris warns “it doesn't take very much water to drown.” She recommends being observant and cautious when you’re in the water, especially if you don’t know how to swim.

In that case, Alfultis added that always wearing a personal flotation device is key. “Just make sure you wear those at all times,” he said.

When you're traveling and going hiking in a new location, “make sure you know what wild animals are present, and if you need to have bear spray or remain on heightened alert to your surroundings,” said Morris.

Alfultis said it’s also important to wear proper attire. “Make sure you wear proper closed-toe shoes rather than flip-flops if you're going to participate in cycling or hiking,” he said.

“And if you're doing something alone, make sure somebody knows where you're going, what you’re doing, and how long you're going to be gone so they know at what time to expect you back or where to look for you,” he said.

“If you park in a public area, take a moment to write down at what time you started, your route, and an emergency contact number. Put that in the dashboard of your car, so if someone comes across your vehicle, they know who you are and the route that you were going.”

You also may be interested in...

Army Builds Tool to Save Lives at High Altitude

Article Around MHS
9/30/2022
Military researchers in the mountains of New Mexico

Mountain climbing is risky business. When unacclimatized individuals rapidly ascend to altitudes greater than 8,000 feet, they put themselves at risk for suffering from high-altitude illnesses. The addition of hard physical exercise, typical of a military mission, increases this level of risk. Detecting these illnesses prior to occurrence has the potential to save lives.

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation | Physical Fitness

Air Quality Awareness in a Haze

Article Around MHS
9/15/2022
Hazy sunset view at Puget Sound

Due to raging wildfires scorching thousands of acres from British Columbia to northern California, there’s been a murky layer which has settled over the entire area, which has even closed highways and mountain passes in Washington State.

Recommended Content:

Environmental Exposures | Wildfires | Environmental Fitness | Summer Safety

Soldiers Not Immune to Damage of Sun's Rays

Article Around MHS
7/28/2022
Soldiers not immune to damage of sun’s rays

Some soldiers have a greater risk for developing skin cancer than others. For July’s UV Safety Awareness month, soldiers should be aware of their risks and how to reduce their chances of skin cancer.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Summer Safety

Yoga Shield: Building Mental and Physical Resiliency

Article Around MHS
7/27/2022
Military personnel doing yoga

More than 30 Airmen assigned to the Ohio National Guard’s 178th Wing and the Iowa National Guard’s 132nd Wing began a week-long, 60-hour yoga training program July 18 at the 178th Wing in Springfield, Ohio.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Psychological Fitness

Mind-Body Mental Fitness

Article Around MHS
7/27/2022
Mountain view

The lifestyle of active duty service members and their families comes with unique stressors that can often be compounded by living overseas. What most people don’t realize is that stress is a normal part of life. The feelings of stress are just indicators that something in our life needs attention, and even presents a possibility for positive change and growth.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Physical Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Stress | Mental Health is Health Care

Teddy Roosevelt, Navy Medicine, and the Birth of Physical Readiness

Article Around MHS
7/25/2022
Military personnel in exercise drill on deck of Navy ship

Today’s U.S. Navy espouses a “culture of fitness,” and “physical readiness,” but this was not always the case. In the early 1900s, many including the president himself, Theodore Roosevelt, were appalled by the lack of physical conditioning in the Navy.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Physical Fitness

August Performance Triad Month

Article Around MHS
7/21/2022
Color graphic depicting aspects of wellness.

As part of its August “P3 for All” campaign, the U.S. Army Public Health Center is encouraging all Army leaders, soldiers, family members and soldiers for life to embrace the synergy of sleep, activity and nutrition, the core components of the Performance Triad, along with the important elements of mental readiness and spiritual readiness.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Nutritional Fitness | Sleep

Staying Mission Ready with Rising Temperatures

Article Around MHS
7/14/2022
Military personnel facing sun

Though increased temperatures can pose quite a risk, Soldiers training and missions can continue as they utilize different tools to mitigate those risks.

Recommended Content:

Environmental Exposures | Summer Safety

JBLM Army spouse combats PTSD with physical fitness

Article Around MHS
7/13/2022
Military personnel in physical training session

Stress and anxiety are a normal part of life, but anxiety disorders like PTSD, which affect 40 million adults, are the most common psychiatric illnesses in the U.S.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Psychological Fitness | Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Beating the Stigma: Workhorse Battalion and H2F Team Up to Improve Physical Readiness

Article Around MHS
6/24/2022
Military personnel bench pressing

To help counter that stigma of being "broken", the 10th Division Sustainment Troops Battalion “Workhorse,” 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade, and the brigade’s Holistic Health and Fitness team, also known as H2F, joined forces to create the Unbreakable Warrior program, also known as UBW.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Physical Fitness

Army announces initiatives to improve quality of life for Soldiers in Alaska

Article Around MHS
6/3/2022
woman riding bicycle

Army leadership looks to expand indoor and outdoor recreation opportunities in Alaska as one way to improve the quality-of-life for Service members serving up in the Last Frontier.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness

Momentum builds as Army implements Holistic Health and Fitness

Article Around MHS
10/5/2021
Soldiers prepare to exercise.

The Army’s implementation of Holistic Health and Fitness, or H2F, has made significant progress over the past year as the Army’s primary investment in Soldier readiness and lethality.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness

Regular physical activity is important for health and performance

Article Around MHS
9/29/2021
A Coast Guardsman works out at Coast Guard Air Station Savannah.

Those who get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week have a much lower risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease—the top killers of Americans every year.

Recommended Content:

Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness

Finding time for fitness during the work week just got easier

Article Around MHS
9/29/2021
A person works out the gym.

The new Army Civilian Fitness and Health Promotion Program now encourages employees to focus on fitness while at work.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness | Total Force Fitness

JRTC, Fort Polk promote health, fitness for civilian workforce

Article Around MHS
9/23/2021
Luewana Hannon (left), community ready and resilient integrator, provides information to Georgia Louis (right) during the education and information fair at the Join Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk Army Community Service, Sept. 20.

The Civilian Fitness and Health Promotions Program hosted an education and information fair at the Join Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk Army Community Service, Sept. 20.

Recommended Content:

Physical Fitness
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 1
Refine your search
Last Updated: June 28, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery