The best way to celebrate Black Friday? Go outside. Photo by Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman

Don’t look for me lined up outside a big box department store before dawn come Black Friday. Any camping out I do will involve dirt, hooting owls and hiking boots.

Same goes for Valerie Salinas-Davis, co-founder and chief executive officer at EnviroMedia, an Austin-based advertising and public relations firm that focuses on the environment and health. The company announced this week that it’s following the lead of outdoor retailer REI: It’s closing for the day and encouraging everyone to get outside.

“I would rather run a marathon than go to one of those big box stores this Friday,” Salinas-Davis says. (Read her blog about the topic on Huffington Post here.)

I love the #optoutside movement championed by REI too. Don’t spend the entire day shuffling around a shopping mall like a zombie, spending money and buying stuff. Instead, lace up your trail runners, pitch a tent, paddle a kayak, pedal up a steep hill, or flop on a blanket under the stars. You’ll feel better for it.

Don’t shop this weekend. Follow REI’s lead and #OPTOUTSIDE. Pam LeBlanc/American-Statesman


Salinas-Davis, who also hired a coach to lead a lunch-time circuit training program for employees, is shooing her staff out of the office this Friday.

“In addition to the fact that I hate shopping, this #optoutside program was really a great opportunity to nudge myself and all our 20 staffers to go outside on Friday,” she said. “It’s a really good nudge for all of us to get off the couch and do something active.”

Based on the office’s overall love of animals, she’s also encouraging them to participate in Subaru’s #MakeADogsDay promotion. Through Nov. 27, Subaru will donate $1 to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (up to $50,000) when you publicly post a photo of yourself with your dog outdoors on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and include the hashtags #OptOutside and #MakeADogsDay.

As for Salinas-Davis, you’ll find her biking a 12-mile route through Hays County this Friday. She’ll be doing anything, she says, but trudging around a shopping center with her wallet open.

“It feels great,” she says. “Everytime I go out, when I come back I have a lot more energy and I can get more things done.”

Need ideas on what you can do outdoors this weekend? Check the REI website for suggestions and event listings that cover everything from parks to mountain bike trails, hiking routes and climbing areas.

“We know stress is not healthy, and shopping is very stressful,” Salinas-Davis says. “I know there are studies out there that show kids who are more active and healthier and spend more time outside do better in school. I would think that would apply to us adults at work, too,” she said.