A Post Nobody Will Read

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By Matt Stone

health and outdoor recreationHere we go again. Another one of those boring posts about outdoor recreation and health. If I’ve learned anything from blogging over the years, it’s that most people don’t give a flying rat’s ass about any connections between outdoor recreation and health. I mean, when I posted 10 Health Reasons to Spend Time Outdoors last summer, I sniffed my armpits trying to figure out why everyone immediately scattered the moment it went live. Do I offend?

Yep, people want to hear about some magic supplement or diet that will enable them to sit around doing nothing, staring into the electronic devices they are fatally attracted to for endless hours, and avoid adventure and discomfort at all costs.

Hell, on my last trip into the outdoors, it snowed 9 inches on my tent overnight. The trail was barely visible the next day. I had to cross two ice-water creeks carrying an 8-year old in my arms and 50+ pounds on my back. There was absolutely nothing comfortable or climate-controlled about it. And I had no freaking idea what was going down on Facebook, Twitter, my email, or even my website. Scary I tell ya. I mean, Dr. Oz coulda been contacting me for an appearance on his show and I wouldn’t have known about it! The horror!

But I can’t help reporting honestly. If I didn’t think it was important, I wouldn’t bother to tell you about it, especially in anticipation of it being received with complete and total disinterest.

health benefits outdoors

Every year I try to spend a good amount of time frolicking around in the outdoors. And every time I do it I am amazed andreminded about the physical, emotional, and psychological differences that I experience. But now it’s not just me. The last couple of times I’ve had two others tagging along. Having three to observe instead of just one has shown me the universality of some of these profound differences.

Here are some of the primary differences:

  1. Less stress… This manifests in many ways. While there is some strain and stress in poor weather, difficult terrain, and stress of the grueling physical variety inherent to many forms of outdoor recreation, mental stress is minimal most of the time. While I’m not that stressed out of a person in general, my mind stays quite busy and frantic at times. Not so in the outdoors. My mind is almost eerily calm most of the time. As many of you know, the health implications of lower stress levels are nearly endless. This is not just hocus pocus either. There are some legitimate studies showing the relationship between outdoor activities and stress reduction. Some other ways stress was reduced include elimination of body image concerns, money worries (the 9-day trip cost $90 for all three of us), work obligations, loud noise, flashing lights/electronics, and many other things inherent to modern life. Interestingly, my girlfriend’s seizure activity has resurfaced the day after we return from a camping trip three straight times now. It is completely nonexistent while outdoors, even without her medication, whether doing grueling physical activity or just lounging around.
  2. Better mood… Along similar lines, mood is better. Except at the end of a long hike when everyone is tired and/or wet and cold, all of our moods and our ability to coexist peacefully was greatly enhanced over a typical day at home.
  3. Feeling of fulfillment… While this is an intangible feeling, we all seem to feel it. Conquering physical obstacles, seeing breathtaking and inspiring scenery, and toughing out the elements seem to leave us all feeling very satisfied – a feeling difficult to obtain indoors.
  4. Lack of muscle soreness… Even though we are working hard outdoors, the only times we have been very sore were always the day after we had spent the first night back in the indoors. It’s as if hard days of hiking only hit us when we slept indoors rather than outdoors, which is to be expected if the idea of Earthing does have the validity some claim it does.
  5. Better sleep… At home all three of us have the hardest damn time winding down and going to sleep. Electronics are primarily responsible for this in our case. None of us want to pull the plug on the glowing boxes. In the outdoors, we all synchronize with the natural light cycles and get very sleepy at the end of the day, just after sunset. In the indoors I usually lay around thinking about stuff for quite some time before I can drift off. In the outdoors I’m out in minutes, even on off days/no-hiking days (we took two on our recent 9-day backpacking trip).
  6. Weight loss… Of course, out hiking around and spending the day active, none of which is forced (even days we don’t hike we are all up and doing stuff like fishing and gathering firewood), we all lost weight rapidly. All of our pants were falling off by the end of a week. Of course, if you could see a video of the people in the café I’m sitting in right now in Moab, Utah, you would see the connection between low body fat levels and interest in outdoor recreation. It’s strikingly apparent.
  7. Decrease in appetite… Interest in food quickly drops. We’ve seen this on every backpacking trip. Try as camping foodwe might to make the food palatable and calorie dense (Oreo cookies, Ginger snap cookies, chocolate chip pancakes, creamy noodles, etc.), we were all turning our noses at food by the end. Just not that hungry or interested in food.

That’s a small sampling of some of the more major and significant observations we are repeatedly making after long stretches of time in the outdoors. As I’ve mentioned before, the outdoors has always been the refuge I’ve sought for health problems, providing an instant cure for the back pain and asthmatic tendencies that have pestered me off and on since my teens.

Although time outdoors means and is perceived differently by different people, and is therefore a difficult topic to study, here is a good, reference-heavy piece featuring some of the more academic attempts to establish a connection between health and the great outdoors (the place, not the movie). Have fun not reading it either.

Health Benefits of Outdoor Recreation

87 Comments

  1. Totally agree.

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  2. I read it! And man, I could not agree more. I invariably feel more energetic, less depressed, less distracted, and calmer when I unplug and go outside for a while.

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  3. I may be first. I hear ya Matt. Literally and figuratively. And I see the same thing with my students, I’ll teach them TRE (tension release exercises) and then they’ll come in after a crazy stressful week and I’ll ask if they did TRE and the answer is always: Nope. Whatcha gonna do? It’s hard for stressed out humans to do self care. This of course, isn’t always true…

    And thanks to you, I’ve been integrating outdoor time the past couple of weeks taking walks and shiz. It really does feel good. I heard ya. It took a while to get to it, but I heard :-)

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  4. First. And I did read it and I do agree. We try for camping once a summer for a week. The difference when we get back is amazing. We are still sleeping with our window next to the bed open to get that outdoor feel. :D:D

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    • ‘Not’ on the first. But that’s ok. :D:D

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  5. Good grief! You really have frightened everybody off if I get to post a …. FIRST!!! ;-)

    As a quick question I love the outdoors but since I’ve been refeeding (6 months) I get chronic pain in my lower back whenever I walk for more than 10 minutes :-( So my question is… should I push through the pain by doing small walks in a local woods or something similar or should I wait until the pain subsides before enjoying the outdoors again? It’s getting me down that it’s taking so long to recover from the very very very stupid low carb diet I did for 3 years! Love your posts by the way :-)

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    • Hey Kaza,

      I would walk for 10 minutes a day then. And after a little while, see if you can do 11 minutes without pain. And then 12. And so on. Just build up, little by little. There’s no magic bullet, no magic moment when you’ll suddenly be able to walk miles. Just do what you can, and what you can enjoy comfortably, and chances are, your capacity will increase. Just give it time.

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      • Thanks Rob! That seems a reasonable solution :-) I’m just new to this listening to your body thing and sometimes it gets a tad confusing! Is the pain telling you to stop doing things or should you carry on etc etc. I like walking in the woods though so I shall indeed try to fit in 10 mins a day.

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      • Agreed. Speaking of the good Dr. Oz, about 7 years ago I heard him mention that walking for 30 min. a day was more effective on depression over a 1 year period than taking antidepressants. Thats what got me started on my health kick, and I started by walking for just 15 min., 3x/week. At the time I was 260 lbs (I am 5’2″) and injured. Walking and eating what worked and not eating what did not work, did lose me about 50 lbs. The walking I believe is what did it. Not saying that it will always produce weight loss for everybody, but it really helped with my depression and you know that depression causes obesity. Not just the other way around.

        This reminds me of ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ on that podcast ‘All In the Mind’. Its a very old episode, may not be available on the internet anymore. I kept it on my laptop. Basically its about the effect of nature on children who suffer from behavior problems including autism and ADD. Apparently many of them respond favorably to time spent outdoors in nature.

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        • What I meant to say is: do the 10 min. Do what you can do. Over time what you can do will improve.

          Don’t push too hard. Just do what feels good. Emphasis on ‘feels’.

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    • Yes. Walk for 10 minutes at a time and gradually (however gradually you need to) build up from there.

      While I refed, I was super sedentary. It was hard to even walk for 5 minutes when I finally started getting out more. After slowly walking more and more, I can walk for at least an hour at a pretty fast pace. I’m going to have to start running again soon…I’m finally getting that urge now.

      You’ll be able to walk farther and longer…just take it easy and give it time. And pay attention to how your body reacts to the amount of walking you do. And I hope you enjoy the woods. :)

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      • Thanks Beth. Really appreciate you taking the time to reply. It’s nice to hear how other people have dealt with things. It’s hard as well because I still have really bad water retention all over, which makes my legs and ankles feel really stiff! Grrrr… can’t wait to feel well :-) I will def enjoy my 10 mins in the woods.

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        • I have water retention too! I feel like a marshmallow sometimes ha.

          Getting more sleep (at least 7 1/2 to 8 hours of a sleep at night) really helps me a lot. On days I don’t get much sleep at night (less than 6 hours), I wake up really swollen. I’m very sleep-deprived and I think if I sleep well on a consistent basis, it could help my water retention.

          Also meditate if you can for stress. It might help.

          And having water retention from reintroducing more carbs/food will eventually go away I’ve heard/read.

          Walking and hiking helps though! I tend to get more bloated in the heat and as my body heats up, but the exercise over the long term definitely helps.

          This past spring, I had to pull weeds in our yard and it left me extremely sore…I wasn’t able to work much at all. After that, I started walking and hiking more consistently and slowly building my time out/mileage. Last week, I pulled weeds in my yard and I had a lot more stamina to do it…I was able to do more with less soreness. I believe walking will help you feel better.

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          • Love the meditation, I second that notion. Love the free ones on iTunes in the podcast section. I find the guided meditations to be very soothing.

          • I feel for you. Water retention totally sucks :-( Yeah I’m like a marshmallow…but a very firm one! Everything feels stretched to the max. Especially my stomach which feels so hard under my ribs…bah! I try to get as much sleep as possible but am also sleep deprived. I sleep in chunks of anything from an hour to sometimes 5 hours but on the odd night I do sleep for 5 hours I have no idea what made the difference! I try to do the same the very next day and then will wake after an hour and a half. Frustrating but am sure we’ll get there in the end. It’s great that you are starting to feel like you have more stamina. You have given me hope that good things are around the corner! Thanks again.It’s great to hear from people who have gone through the same things (although I’m sorry that people go through it!).

          • I hope you feel better more and more. The healing will come. :)

          • One other thing I just thought of is that when I’m more physically active, I tend to sleep better.

            I also tend to sleep better when I turn off all my gadgets by about 8:30 or 9 at night (which is sooooooo hard for me to do).

            Something like yoga might help too.

            Also daytime naps, if possible, help me.

    • Try earthing to help speed recover.

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  6. Doh! The page just hadn’t updated!

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  7. I love hiking and backpacking and agree about the benefits but wonder in light of your metabolism insights – does the rapid weight loss and grueling physical work, whether enjoyed or not, are detrimental to metabolism? or do all of the other benefits out weigh that? or probably, it doesn’t matter what you do for that short of time on your metabolism?

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    • I wondered about this too. Reading about people in my home country from the 19th century, they worked long hours outside and ate enormous quantities of food. Maybe the decreased interest in food is a transition thing? Or an effect on loosing weight kind of rapidly?

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      • effect OF loosing weight…

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  8. I read this on an electronic device. Oh the irony

    Anyway, yes, everyone feels better after exercise and the outdoors. If I’m feeling stagnant I do some small weights and sit-ups etc.

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    • I read it on my iPhone, in my tent, camping in the great outdoors. But I quickly skimmed through & put the phone away for the rest of the trip!

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  9. I think you said it already in your post. The outdoors is a “refuge”. But it shouldn’t have to be. Many generations ago, that was just the normal experience for people. You’re saying things people fundamentally already know. We all have jobs and commitments and most of live in cities and we do the best we can. One of the reasons I like Minneapolis is because we’re so highly rated for our park system and our housing isn’t as dense. I’ve been to other cities and I can’t stand that concrete jungle feeling.

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  10. I miss spending time outdoors camping, graduate school has made that nearly impossible the last 2.5 years but your article makes me determined to get outside more! I really hate how tethered to electronics we’ve become and dream of moving off grid all the time.

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  11. I recently moved into the backwoods of Pine, Colorado and I can’t even begin to describe the positive changes to my being. I wake up and step out the back porch, and literally- BAM! Wilderness. There are bears, mountain lions, foxes and coyotes right in our backyard. Plus, being off the grid we have 100% well water. No chlorine, fluoride, chemical and drug residues etc in our water. I bought a rifle, we have a laying hen, chop firewood every day… I love it.

    But as for hiking/camping- there was that study going around recently showing that camping for just a couple days can completely reset your internal biological clock. It must be so good for optimizing your hormones, e.g. melatonin cycles etc.

    Also interesting that you mention changes in appetite. One thing I always notice on extended camping trips is how not just my appetite, but also whole attitude towards food changes. Even a bowl of gummy plain oatmeal cooked over a fire on a brisk morning, or a can of tuna smashed with some sort of condiment after hiking is so so satisfying. Better still is when you make a fairly complex/gourmet meal in the woods- it like intensifies and magnifies the deliciousness and satisfaction factor tenfold.

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    • Your lifestyle sounds wonderful! I’m from Colorado and we’re trying to get back there…preferably in the mountains, on a good-sized piece of land that we can work and produce food on.

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    • +100

      I moved into the woods a decade ago, and it is a wonderful thing. My only visible neighbors are trees and deer, and my human neighbors are all occluded by the woods. Living in the rainforest of the pacific northwest has certain (wet) drawbacks, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

      Even so, I still enjoy going camping ever year and being totally unplugged from the electronic world. Not checking/writing email or reading websites is in itself very relaxing. In addition to leisurely day-hikes and maybe a little bit of canoeing, we mostly just relax, read a book (they do still exist) build fires and enjoy camp cooking.

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    • I have always wanted to live in CO. When people talk about where they would live if they won the lotto, thats always in my top 5.

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  12. I work outside for a living, for the past 13 years. When l’m not at work I want to be inside in a climate controlled environment. Outside causes me stress unless it’s 72 and overcast. Some of these guys I work with love being outside all the time. I want to like it outside, but I don’t. I also want to like tomatoes, but I don’t. I’ve tried the outside and I’ve tried tomatoes but they both make me want to puke. My little boy loves being outside and I will always go “outty” with him. I want to like it. Help me like it.

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    • Maybe move somewhere where it is 72 and overcast most of the time?

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      • Excellent idea: how about Humboldt County in Northern CA? I grew up spending a lot of time there, and the weather is often overcast.

        Do you have photosensitivity? I do from my burns. (I’m a burn survivor.) I always wear sleeves and a brim to protect me from the sun.

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        • Yes I am white as a ghost and don’t tan. I’m either white or red. I wear long sleeves and a wide brim hat year round.

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          • I was told that I would begin to tan and not burn if I ate more saturated fats and gave up the vegetable oils. I did not believe it. I am very fair and I grew up outdoors all the time as a child in the South burning all the time. I really do see a difference now that I again live in a sunny area and have to be outdoors at times for my job. Just be sure and eat the coconut oil and cod liver oils and don’t put them on your skin. Something about the saturated fats and maybe the natural Vitamin D in the cod liver oil makes a difference. Oh, and I am 50 now.

      • That is where I need to go Cameron

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    • I’m the same way. I don’t really care for being outside, unless its perfect weather. I hate the heat during the summer unless I’m swimming. This was the first summer I spent without air conditioning, and it was unbearable. I prayed for fall. Being outside is great if you live in a beautiful place where you can enjoy it (I love mountainous places), and the midwest really isn’t one of those places. I also have bad seasonal allergies, which makes it harder to want to be outside.

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      • The midwest has some wonderful scenery just like other places. I like it, we’re in MN.
        For allergies, I once discovered that a tincture of honeysuckle and forsythia helped enormously. I took it for a dry cough, but it ended up curing me of my pollen allergies too! Other helpful herbs are eyebright and ragweed (from non-pollinating parts!).

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    • My recipe: a book -a real old fashioned one with (gasp) pages. A comfortable chair. A shady tree. Birds. Or – a horse to ride. Or a garden to potter in or pretend to grow vegetables in.

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  13. Another agreement here. Contrary to what the commercials portray, my allergies are always better after I’ve been outside. The couple of days in August that I’m in the serious throes of a major allergy attack, not so much, but extended time outdoors really helps with my eyes. And the swelling can really make me look like I spend my free time brawling with everyone.

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    • I agree. Some days there’s nothing that helps but when the pollen isn’t going absolutely haywire, spending as much time outdoor as possible and keeping the windows open, esp at night, has helped a lot. Also, making a conscious effort to relax when an attack comes on is helpful too. I tend to respond by becoming highly agitated, so I have to really switch gears to do this.

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  14. If you missed Oz’s phone call because you were out in nature, that’s benefit #8.

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    • Missing Dr. Oz’s phone call was benefit #1. I f****ing hate Dr. Oz!

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  15. I always feel there is some kind of arcane, technical knowledge we need to go out into the great outdoors. I feel like I don’t have the right gear. I’m always worried I’m going to end up lost and helpless somewhere, and covered in bug bites and being chased by a bear. Or worse, a skunk.

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    • Many outdoor stores give classes/courses on different things. Also colleges do too. You could hook up with a hiking group and learn things from more experienced people in the group also.

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      • I recommend going with a group too. You don’t have to be too remote to enjoy a trail. I don’t go by myself just for safety’s sake.

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    • Ugh, I worry about the bug bites! I was so looking forward to the nice weather this year and especially spending time in ‘real’ nature. The one time we hit the woods, we were bitten so badly we just decided not to attempt it again. What do people do? I will not use harsh chemicals. I saw that documentary from the Russian taiga where the locals burn birch bark into a nasty-smelling concoction and lather that all over themselves. They said it works as well as the stuff in stores. Of course, the air is completely filled with mosquitoes there, so they should know.

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  16. I love this blog post! I haven’t gone camping forever and I miss it so much! And finally, our weather is cooling down here and I can hike the local trails here in the Phoenix, AZ area. The hiking is fun right now and we can do it all winter long! :) I miss snowshoeing and skiing being close by though.

    We are trying so hard to get closer and live closer to the outdoors. My husband wants to be able to step outside our front door to go mountain biking and trail running/hiking. Me too.

    And Moab is a super-fun place to go to! I’ve gone on climbing trips there, snowshoeing, and hiking. Beautiful place and the people there ARE fit!

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    • Beth, I hear ya on that! The thing I love most about the Phoenix area is the hiking trails especially now with the temps lowering to the high 80s. The first time I went on one the trails, me and my friend walked so deep into the park that it felt like we were transported to a remote desert wilderness even though we were still in within the Phoenix city limits (between Northern Ave/Route 51 and Tatum/Camelback). Amazing! :)

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      • That is the awesome thing about many of our parks. :D I love being over in that area!

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  17. I think you must have been doing some reverse psychology here because as soon as I saw “don’t read this” I assumed it was worth reading!

    I don’t think people need to do a hard-core hike to get the benefits of outdoors. I feel awesome after an afternoon on a blanket in Central Park, or a day (or better yet several days) at the beach. Personally I hate being in the wilderness in a tent without showers, etc. It does not foster good moods in me. But a week in a small remote cottage or on the beach is awesome and confers similar benefits. I think the exercise is half of it, too.

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  18. I’m a bit confused here Matt. You tell us how important it is to “eat for heat”, but then you site that on your outdoor camping/hiking trip, you had a “decrease in appetite”, and you lost weight. I also remember you mentioning how long hikes lowered your body temperature. Are you taking an 180Degree detour?

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    • Ha it’s happened before…

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      • Maybe I’m not doing enough grueling hikes when I go camping but one of the side benefits for me is the increased appetite when staying in the out of doors. Camping makes me hungry, I sleep better and feel strong. Love all that.

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        • Maybe they brought the wrong foods for the outdoors?

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  19. I try to get outdoors for at least a little while every day… for a long while when it’s nice out! A week of camping is great but daily doses of the outdoors are needed in between. Cookies, pancakes and creamy noodles? I’d lose my appetite if I had to eat that stuff while hiking too. Lots of calories and very little nutrition. You can eat for heat and be healthy about it, i.e. dense in nutrition not just empty calories.

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  20. <3 this!! We need a 180 week long outdoor adventure for us all to join in and just…well…dare I say "have fun, interact face-to-face and…just hang out?!!" What would that be like in our world?!! I'm calling front seat in whatever caravan I'm on…slug-bugs and all. You make me crave the outdoors! Hope you're having more fun than a barrel of monkeys!

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  21. Every time I go camping I experience the same things. Especially regarding the sleep–I feel fine even if I stay up late around a campfire and only seem to get in 5-6 hours of sleep, fully rejuvinated, clear mind, able to contemplate the meaningful things.

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  22. FWIW “10 Health Reasons to Spend Time Outdoors” is one of my favorite articles you wrote.

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  23. Yah screw reading these articles by the body temperature guru!!!

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  24. I also read it. I don’t go camping, or spending some time “in the wild” because I honestly don’t have the slightest idea of how to do it, or where to go, or if it’s safe..
    Also, a lot of things really don’t sound like something I would like to do. I’m very sensitive to pain, and to cold, so I really would have to start small…
    Thanks, anyway for bringing this up. I’m sure someday I will dare to go on a trip like the one you describe, Matt.

    BTW, why is a decrease in appetite a good thing?

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  25. I too am interested in what happens to the appetite. I would be happy to find it’s just leptin working better and our metabolisms don’t suffer from the effect. Good article though. The not being sore thing is really interesting. I WANT EXPERIMENTATION =)

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  26. I quickly skimmed through the post & was going to reply, but something told me to go outside and get some sun.(lol)

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  27. I’m looking at age 60 next year, can’t do that level of outdoors for days at a time. But I do spend as much time as I can in parks and digging in my gardens. It certainly nourishes my soul.

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    • I’m almost 69 and I camp on the Saco River for a week in the summer, kayak, bike, run and workout with Russian kettlebells. You can remake your body one step at a time!

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  28. I read up to the part about magic supplements. Matt, speaking of “magic supplements”, what do you think about peptides, ie the injectable kind? like IGF-1 enhancers such as CJC-1295 and other secretagogues that raise growth hormone? Not for sports enhancement, but for general health enhancement etc.

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  29. Hiking – my absolute most favorite activity. I spent lots of time hiking in beautiful lush parts of eastern Europe, and was totally devasted when my family moved to flat Iowa.

    You can really see the effects on children when staying indoors for too long, plus we don’t even have a tv or let them use any electronics. As soon as i see they are all fighting just a little too much, i pack them quickly to go to our nearest park for some barefeet running around on fresh air and lovely sunshine among other human beings. Ah…..a complete change in disposition for all of us, especially mommy.

    Just can’t believe how many people wear glasses when out.

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    • Yes! My kids had to be inside for 3 weeks due to illness, just as the weather was turning cool and lovely. The little one, 6, was going ballistic. Really, kids should spend the majority of their time outside. I did when I was little. I like the book The Idle Parent, the part about sending your kid out the door with a chunk of food upon waking, not seeing them till dinnertime.

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  30. I moved to the country 2 years ago and I love it! My trips to the city for groceries are getting more and more infrequent, and I think I am becoming a hermit. I really hate city noise and the city stink. Yuk! I love the silence and the solitude, and the sounds of nature. The only thing that occasionally wakes me in the night is our pet moose, Walter, snorting outside the bedroom window. Yes, it’s amazing what clean drinking water and clean air can do for one’s health.

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    • Welcome to the hermit club. We don’t ever have meetings, but we do say hi to each other from time to time on the internet. :-)

      Is having a pet moose as awesome as it sounds like it would be?

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  31. Hey Matt, Richard Nikoley has written a post about raising body temp with resistant starch! Dude that’s all you man. You were on to this stuff first.

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  32. I’m an outdoor person myself, so I already feel the benefits. Perhaps I would rather go outdoors than stay indoors reading about it?

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  33. Nice Duckie reference. I’ve caught Pretty in Pink on tv a couple times recently.

    I wonder if others have this issue- but getting outdoors or meditating has always been more difficult for me than sticking to some strict diet. I’m not sure why that is, and you’d think it would be the other way around. It shouldn’t be a chore to make myself go outside and take a walk or sit in the grass. But it is. It doesn’t help living in the Midwest during winter. But I’m trying to figure out why I’m wired like that. Maybe plopping in front of the tv is too easy. But I’ll even workout inside before going out. Maybe that’s just part of city life??

    I also feel like meditating is such a chore, so I don’t do it enough. I don’t like cooking either, and yet I still cook inside of some dietary guidelines. Maybe that’s why posts like this get less attention. For some reason it’s easier to force ourselves to enforce dietary restrictions but not to do something as natural as hanging out outside. Hmm…

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  34. I’m totally going outside instead of reading this.

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  35. I figured this out a long time ago. I work and study from home and I get completely depressed if I don’t get out of the house every day. I also can’t concentrate and I feel like I didn’t accomplish anything when I don’t spend some time outside, even if I actually did the same amount of work as any other day. Even just to go sit in the park a few minutes walk from my house makes me feel a hundred times better.

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  36. Is there something missing in my DNA to not like being outdoors? Walking is not my favorite thing to do; never has been. I have a friend who adores hiking, yet I’m befuddled by it. I am super glad so many people love nature. I see that there are so many benefits I’m probably missing out on, yet I don’t feel them.

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    • It’s all about finding what you enjoy. I love walking around and being in parks, but hate hiking and camping. Maybe sitting in a garden or doing yoga or whatever is more your speed.

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    • I’m not into walking for walking’s sake, but if you having a dog that can make walking or running a lot more fun. My dog always runs with me. Can’t imagine doing it without him. Like The Real Amy said, you need to figure out what you enjoy doing outside.

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  37. Last month I camped and came out of the woods with 31 mosquito bites on the inside of my left leg alone! Worked up a lot of heat scratchin’ those bites. Not to mention the reduction in iron load.

    Also love it when we end up camped next to an outhouse. Nothing like hours of olfactory stimulation to normalize hormonal regulation.

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  38. I was working outdoors by the ocean several days over the summer, and while there, my allergy symptoms went away. In town, even outdoors, I’d be hacking and grabbing kleenex and whatever. But by the sea, away from the city or village, there wasn’t any of that. Maybe I’m just allergic to civilization. Well, more likely I don’t tollerate *something* found more often in town, so this observation means nothing. xD However it was calming to work in the fresh air, surrounded by idyllic vistas. :)

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  39. I love this post! It may sound weird, but I absolutely love being outside doing yardwork and working in my garden. Not only am I spending time outside and improving my home, I feel like it is sort of a zen experience. My mind clears, and I just focus on the task at hand. Great exercise, stress relief, better sleep, and time outdoors. Can’t beat it!

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  40. First, to those who don’t like outside, as others have suggested, you don’t have to do anything extreme or even moderately technical/exhausting, like hiking or camping or anything else in particular. We are all individuals, so find something YOU like. I hate to run, or walk on roads, but I’ll hike all day long. Consider gardening. It will motivate you to be outside consistently and I believe there is something to the earthing thing. There’s something therapeutic to getting your hands in the dirt (then again I ate it as a kid, too – mineral deficiency or maybe I’m just weird). There are plenty of options, just find or make an excuse to get outside. It doesn’t have to be 40 miles into wilderness. Even just sitting out under a tree does wonders for my mental state. Look for something that piques your interest. I just started slacklining with my kids because it looked fun to me. Like some other posters, I’m fortunate to live in the woods. I love to see my kids running around the yard with sticks, building forts, riding bikes, playing in the snow, etc. My four year old LOVES the outdoors, so he’s my motivation to get outside more (he cried today because he’s sick and can’t play in the snow). It’s not that I don’t want to go, but it’s not as pressing as the To Do list, and I often let other things take priority. He helps me get my priorities straight. Going with others helps. You’ll have to schedule a time that works for everyone, and that alone clears the first big hurdle, making time for it. Also, knowing they’re expecting you can help get you out the door on days you may not quite feel like it. Plus, you have others to share stories with.

    Finally, I’m open minded enough to believe that maybe there are some who just will never enjoy being outside. Just like there are some who don’t like chocolate. I love it so much I can’t imagine that, but I also can’t imagine not liking chocolate). For those who may not, try to find something that emotionally, mentally and spiritually fills you up.

    Now, time to pack for the weekend on the mountain!

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  41. I walk outside for an hour several days a week. Not quite the same thing as camping, of course. I feel pretty good about it; actually, I’m a lot happier than I was when I was an indoors or car type person (I used to spend hours driving here n there)…. my walks used to be mostly indoors, like at malls. I worry about the cumulative sun damage, but not that much.

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  42. Love it, Matt. At 52, I took up my first hike this summer. I hiked and biked most of the Camino de Santiago from St. Jean Pied-de-Port, France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

    The first week was rough! You can’t train for crossing the Pyrenees if you live in a flat area like Norfolk, VA. But soon I adjusted, and started loving it. I traveled super-light—no camping gear (stayed at pilgrim hostels), one change of light clothes in the backpack, no more than 16 pounds total. I didn’t experience the decrease in appetite you mention… I only carried pieces of fruit with me (no packaged foods), and at to appetite at bars and cafés along the way, with a super-big “menú de peregrino” (pilgrim’s menu) dinner in the evening. (These usually had two huge main courses, with wine, bread, salad or soup, and always a dessert).

    Besides the first-week blisters, my only health effects were brief mild edema in one hand upon awakening, losing 12 lbs, and feeling more energetic than I ever had in the last 3 decades!

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  43. For Matt,

    I would be carefull with your girlfriend going without medications for her seizures.. My brother stopped and didn’t do very well… !! Seizures don’t always come and go. Sometimes you remain in it. And then it’s the end.

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    • She just happened to run out last year. It was not intentional. She did great when we were out camping. As soon as we drove around in a car all day. Wham. Close call for sure.

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  44. I adore camping (my allergies do not go away, so I make sure to bring the claritin/walitin/whateveritin) and agree that food just becomes MEH which kind of blows me away. It becomes fun to walk to the bathroom (and be damn thankful for a portajohn cause that’s how I camp – luxury!) Thank you for blogging about this. I love the reminder of how much fun it is. :)

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