Research shows that outdoor activity can benefit your physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness, so it’s easy to understand why a health network like St. Luke’s would have an interest in the outdoors. After conducting a local health survey, researchers at the hospital found out that many people within their community were suffering from heart issues, obesity, stress, and depression, among other illnesses. St. Luke’s made it their priority to begin promoting healthy living to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses and in 2013 the network partnered with the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (D&L) to launch a first-of-its-kind program, “Get Your Tail on the Trail (GYTOT)”.
GYTOT became about just that – promoting the wellness associated with being outdoors, be it hiking, biking, kayaking, or walking, and making trails more accessible for users. Five years after their successful launch, St. Luke’s and the D&L worked with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council(PEC) to develop their first GYTOT chapter in Northeastern Pennsylvania in 2018, which covers 7 counties in the region.
Besides the health benefits, the program has many other incentives for participating individuals to win prizes and to feel good about their accomplishments. The winter challenge requires logging 30 miles in 30 days of a set time frame in February/March and the D&L 165 challenge requires logging 165 miles between a set time frame in May-November. Participants who complete that challenge can win prizes. Past examples include water bottles, shirts, winter hats, and more fun trail gear. In the NEPA Chapter, thanks to a partnership with DiscoverNEPA, logging miles at the monthly “trail of the month” feature can even win participants a gift card to an outdoor gear store!
GYTOT not only helps people find new trails in their region, but it also promotes events on the trail such as a recent full moon hike on the D&H Trail in UnionDale. These events are a great way to get out on the trail, experience something new, and meet people who are just as passionate about outdoor activities. In the NEPA Chapter, thanks to a partnership with the Wilkes-Barre Health Department, PEC was able to host their first GYTOT specific event in October, a “Biketober” event to promote bike fun and safety for all ages. At this event, some families experienced their first trail, children rode their first bike, and some lucky winners event went home with free bikes and helmets!