Tag Archive for: Active Lifestyle

Head Outdoors for Your Mental Health in May

Spending time in nature is linked to many positive mental health outcomes – improved focus, lower stress, better mood, and reduced risk of developing a mental health condition. During Mental Health Month this May, ALLtech Benefits encourages you to take advantage of the healing power of nature by heading outdoors.

Green Space Abounds

You don’t need a picture-perfect outdoor experience to get the benefits of nature. Even being in the presence of indoor plants is worthwhile – studies have found this to improve focus, memory and stress tolerance.

  • Take a walk in the park. While being in the wilderness is especially nice, even city parks, a small garden, or sitting under a tree can support your mental health.
  • Bring the outdoors in. Adding greenery to your space can have a similar effect to seeing plants outdoors – and some, like snake plants and bamboo palms, can purify your air.

Seek Natural Light

Sunlight triggers the release of serotonin and vitamin D, which are associated with boosting mood and focus and reducing stress. Without enough sun, these levels can drop, leading to symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health challenges. Light exposure also has a direct impact on your body’s sleep-wake cycle, and consistent sleep is one of the most important factors in your well-being.

  • Enjoy the sunshine. Getting 10 to 15 minutes of sun on your arms and legs a few times a week allows your body to generate all the vitamin D you need.
  • Try a light box. Light therapy can help with symptoms of depression and sleep disorders. The bright light from a light box mimics natural sunlight, causing the brain to produce serotonin and regulate your internal clock.

More Wellness Resources

Dedicated to improving the wellness of the tech community, ALLtech’s diverse plan designs feature virtual care resources that are focused on mental health, including 24/7 virtual care through MDLIVE that includes confidential, convenient online therapy at $0 co-pay on most plans.

ALLtech also partners with Seattle-based nonprofit Wellspring EAP to offer an employee assistance plan (EAP) that includes one-on-one meetings with a counselor and an extensive online platform, featuring stress-reduction webinars and videos, legal and financial resources and more.

To learn more, fill out our Request a Quote form or call 206.602.3558. For more Mental Health Month resources, visit Mental Health America.

Rialto Beach in the Olympic Peninsula.

20 Must-Do Hikes Across Washington State

Our friends at the Washington Trails Association make a habit of simplifying the search for a hike with the website’s Hiking GuideTrip Reports, Hike Finder Map and many other resources.

But with this list of the Essential Washington: 20 Must-Do Hikes, your search could be over at least temporarily while you tackle these hikes that range from a few short miles — like in the above shown Rialto Beach and Hole-in-the-Wall — to longer backpacking trips like the 44-mile one-way Kettle Crest in Northeastern Washington.

How did we choose these twenty out of the hundreds of incredible trails? It was tough, but taken together, we felt these hikes do a great job of showing off Washington’s incredible trail diversity.

From Gothic Basin in the north, to Harry’s Ridge in the south, and Naches Peak Loop in the middle, plus hikes from there in every direction, this Essential Washington list is sure to keep you occupied as you explore all our beautiful state has to offer.

Want to add a couple more to your list? Consider these favorites shared last year by ALLtech Trustee Ken Myer to Lake Ann and Lake Ingalls.

Panther Creek Falls

Waterfalls 101 and Where to Find 12 of the State’s Best

As the spring thaw brings water rushing down our mountainsides, get ready for the peak of waterfall season!

Our friends at the Washington Trails Association can help you understand the basic classifications of waterfalls and find examples of each with its Waterfall Field Guide: 12 Hikes to 4 Types of Falls.

We’ll get you started with the image above of Panther Creek Falls, which is known as a “horsetail” waterfall because of the way it descends along a near-vertical face while staying in contact with the rock face as it falls.

This is a great stop along the Columbia River Gorge for hikers at any level, at just 0.16 miles and a nice viewing deck for the falls. Read more and plan your visit at wta.org.

Welcome Autumn with a Walk in the Woods

The first day of fall is coming up on September 22 this year, but that doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to summer quite yet.

To support you on your journey to wellness, ALLtech often turns to the Washington Trails Association (WTA) to help encourage Washingtonians to take advantage of our state’s extensive trail systems. You can get your hike on and hold on to summer with the WTA’s Not Over Yet! Hikes to Stretch Your Summer from its Fall Hikes page. Indeed, the roundup of late summer hikes reminds us that: “September is summer in Washington, and it also happens to be one of the best hiking months in Washington.”

If you’re yearning more for signs that autumn is nearly upon us, check out some of WTA’s other fall hike roundups, which include:

With the changing season comes changing safety recommendations, which WTA highlights with Five Tips for Fall Hiking. In a nutshell:

  • Pack an extra layer. The days are shorter and weather is less predicable this time of year, so be sure you add warm clothes, rain gear and put fresh batteries in your headlamp when you pack your 10 Essentials.
  • Pack it in, pack it out. It’s the end of a big hiking season. Help leave things better than you found them. Go beyond, and pick up trash along one of the routes.
  • Stay safe in hunting season. Where to hike and what to wear (bright colors!) to safely share the trails during hunting season.

Happy hiking!

Kettlebell workout class.

Get Fit at a Discount as a Member of ALLtech

As gyms open back up again, ALLtech wants to help keep members active with discounted access to Active&Fit Direct™. Get moving at the gym or at home with flexible fitness options starting at just $25 a month, with the added bonus of a $0 enrollment fee for the Standard Fitness Centers in July and August 2021.

With the Active&Fit Direct program, participants have access to:

  • 11,000+ Standard Fitness Centers and Studios
  • 5,000+ NEW Premium Exercise Studios and Fitness Centers (fees will vary based on fitness center selection)
  • 4,000+ Digital Workout Videos
  • NEW Enroll Your Spouse (or domestic partner)
  • Lifestyle Coaching
  • No Long-Term Contracts
  • All starting at just $25 a month

To learn more or sign up for the Active&Fit Direct program, go to Regence.com/advantages or Asuris.com/advantages, then click on Activities and Fitness. Members must sign in to register for the program.

Please take note that monthly fees are not prorated (e.g. fees paid on 7/1/21 pay for the month of July. Fees paid on 7/31/21 pay for the month of July), and the $0 enrollment fee offer is valid from July 1, 2021-August 31, 2021. You can learn more about the $0 enrollment offer for Active&Fit Direct in the following flyers for ALLtech members enrolled in medical through Regence BlueShield or Asuris Northwest Health.

For additional questions, please reference the Active&Fit Direct FAQ.

Rialto Beach in the Olympic Peninsula.

Tips to Celebrate Independence Day with a Walk in the Woods

If you prefer the chirp of birds to the boom of fireworks, the upcoming long Fourth of July weekend might be your perfect opportunity to escape into the Washington wilderness.

We turn to our friends at the Washington Trails Association (WTA) for recommendations to take advantage of the summer season:

Wilderness Washington: Hike 12 Wilderness Areas

Did you know Washington state boasts 31 wilderness areas, the majority of which are within 100 miles of a major metropolitan area? That makes our state’s wilderness among the most accessible in the nation, explains the Washington Trails Association, which also offers tips to help you make the most of your visit to these protected areas.

Check out WTA’s tips for hiking in wilderness and 12 recommendations, which include Rialto Beach and Hole-in-the Wall in the Olympic Peninsula, shown above.

Read the article.

Half a Day or Farther Away: 11 Hikes for Summer

The Washington Trails Association has recommendations for every corner of the state, giving you the opportunity to travel near or far depending on your location.

Consider Mount Finlayson on the San Juan Islands, an easy 3.5-mile trail with scenes of the Olympics and Whidbey Island. Or maybe Crescent Lake in the Central Cascades for something with a bit more distance, at 12 miles including a 1,600-foot elevation gain in the first two miles.

Read the article.

More Summer Hikes from WTA

We know it’s hot out there and want to remind you that Washington Trails Association also has some ideas to help keep you cool in its Summer Hikes section, including:

Please stay cool and stay safe in the coming days!

We also hope you’ll consider joining us for the upcoming Hike-a-Thon this August, where you can log your hikes to help raise money for the Washington Trails Association. You can register (for free!) starting July 1, so it’s time to start considering whether you’d like to register as a team and planning your hikes. Of course, you’re always welcome to join the ALLtech team, who is a proud sponsor of the annual fundraiser this year.

More tips and other resources are coming your way in the weeks to come, so be sure to follow us on Twitter to keep up on the latest. We’ll see you on the trails!

People wearing masks at a bus stop.

Trailhead Direct Transit Service is Back for Summer 2021!

Your access to some of Washington state’s most popular trails is even easier this summer with the return of the Trailhead Direct transit service to the Issaquah Alps and Mount Si.

The service was suspended in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, but is back for 2021 and scheduled to continue through Sunday, September 26, with service on weekends and holidays.

The Issaquah Alps route will start at the Mount Baker Transit Center with service every 30 minutes to Squak Mountain State Park and Tiger Mountain. Trailheads you can access on this route include:

The Mount Si route will start at the Sound Transit Capitol Hill Link light rail station with service every 20 minutes to:

Please be sure to follow these guidelines from King Country Metro to help keep you and your fellow passengers safe this season:

  • Masks are required onboard and while waiting for your Trailhead Direct vehicle at transit centers.
  • Respect the passenger limits onboard Trailhead Direct vehicles, and please observe the signage onboard to block seats to support physical distancing.

And in the spirit of the #RecreateResponsibly campaign, please keep these tips in mind both when utilizing Trailhead Direct, or when enjoying the outdoors on your own:

  • Know before you go. Check the status of the place you want to visit to make sure it’s open. Have a back-up plan in case of crowding.
  • Plan ahead. Prepare for facilities to be closed, pack lunch, and bring essentials like hand sanitizer and a mask. Give yourself extra time to catch your return trip and in case of changes to the plan.
  • Practice physical distancing. Be prepared to mask up to give others space. Keep your group size small. If you’re feeling sick, stay home.
  • Play it safe. Slow down and choose lower-risk activities to reduce risk of injury. Stay within your limits to prevent burdening search and rescue teams and health care providers.
  • Explore responsibly. Be mindful of where you’re choosing to take a trip and your impact on the communities you visit. Always keep pets on leash.
  • Leave no trace. Stay on the trail. Respect the land and water, as well as Native and local communities. Pack out everything you bring with you, including trash and pet waste.
  • Build an inclusive outdoors. Be an active part of making the outdoors safe and welcoming for people of all races, backgrounds, and abilities.

For more information on the Trailhead Direct service, including detailed maps of pickup and drop-off points, fares and more, please go to TrailheadDirect.org.

Photo of couple walking in woods from Roman Purtov on Unsplash.

Winter Gardens Offer Outdoor Opportunities for All

The outdoors have been a source of solace for many people in the Pacific Northwest throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you’re just looking for an excuse to get out of the house or want to meet friends or family in a safe environment, the many trails scattered throughout Washington state offer an opportunity to get some exercise in a peaceful setting.

In the winter months, traveling long distances or planning lengthy hikes can be a challenge for some, but local gardens can be an ideal compromise that get you outside and can accommodate most levels of physical activity.

In the article 18 Gardens to Wander in this Winter, the Washington Trails Association features gardens from around the state that offer beauty throughout the year. With little to no elevation gain and usually snow-free, they are also accessible for the whole family.

Looking for a longer hike to enjoy this winter? Check out the Washington Trails Association’s website, wta.org, which includes sections on Winter Destinations, recent trip reports by fellow hikers that you can filter by location, and much more to help you get outside and enjoy the outdoors.

Man looking at smart watch and holding smart phone.

ALLtech Motivates Members with Enhanced Fitness Tracking, Discounts and More

Need a little motivation to get started on your well-being journey? Just in time for the holidays, ALLtech is enhancing its Regence Empower* member rewards program with a new partnership that includes deep discounts on Fitbit products.

It’s easy to get started with Regence Empower: Just download the app and create an account, then you can start tracking your activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep while engaging in personal challenges and self-guided programs to support your goals. Make the most of the program by syncing your health and fitness apps so you can see all your data — including steps, calories, activity time and distance — in one convenient place.

In the market for a fitness tracking device? Fitbit is the newest addition to the Advantages member discount program, offering up to 30 percent savings on Fitbit devices, accessories and Premium membership.

Learn more about the Activities & Fitness discounts available to ALLtech members. Not an ALLtech member yet? Contact us to learn more about the health plan.

*For members of Asuris Northwest Health, a subsidiary of Regence BlueShield that services the Asotin, Adams, Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Kittitas, Lincoln, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, and Whitman counties, please see the Asuris Motivate member rewards program flyer and accompanying information on how to sync your fitness device.

Video: 3 Trails to Get Away in Nature from ALLtech Trustee Ken Myer

Looking for an outdoor escape this fall? Ken Myer, the Trustee for ALLtech, teamed up with partners Regence BlueShield at the GeekWire Summit last month to share some tips in the above video to help attendees “get out, get away in nature.”

Especially with the new statewide COVID-19 restrictions that are giving some Washingtonians cabin fever, hitting the trails is a great way to get you out of the house safely.

“I just wanted to encourage all of you to consider getting out on our trails,” Myer says in the video. “It’s great for your mind and your body and fall is just a wonderful time to get out hiking.”

A few trails he recommends:

“Whatever trail you choose, I encourage you to get out, get away in nature,” Myer adds. “This is a wonderful time to explore our fantastic trail system.”

Looking for something closer to you? Myer recommends the Washington Trails Association to search for a hike and for important hiking safety tips.