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Danecdotes: Go outside, dag nabbit

Studies have shown the benefits of being outdoors time and time again. It has been shown to increase brain function, decrease stress and improve short-term memory. There have even been reports that it can reduce the risk of nearsightedness in children and greatly strengthen your immune system. PineandLakes.com Illustration

I recently wrote a column saying that winter was over and we should all get out and enjoy the lakes area. A few days later, it snowed.

You would think I have learned my lesson, but I clearly haven't.

Summer is officially here and the weather is tolerable, rainy days notwithstanding. Now there is little excuse to not get outside every once in awhile. I feel like my parents said that to me all the time growing up, and I'm finally trying to take those words to heart.

I'm not saying you need to go to a public place and socialize, if that's not your thing, but getting outside and doing something - anything - on a regular basis is important.

Studies have shown the benefits of being outdoors time and time again. It has been shown to increase brain function, decrease stress and improve short-term memory. There have even been reports that it can reduce the risk of nearsightedness in children and greatly strengthen your immune system.

Now, if I'm sounding preachy, I should point out that I am terrible about this. After coming home from work, it is all too easy for me to go into my house and stay there until I have to go to work the next day. It's where my TV is, after all, as well as my food, cats and usually my wife.

I have been trying to go outside more, even if it is just to sit on my deck and read a book on World War I ("To End All Wars" by Adam Hochschild, if you were interested), but there are so many things I could be doing, both in my own yard and throughout the area, and it is kind of silly that I am not taking advantage of them in my free time.

Personally, if I'm indoors for too long, I develop a fairly intense case of cabin fever and will absolutely have to go outside for a bit - even if it's 100 degrees or 40 degrees below zero. I always remember a day a few years back when my wife thought I lost my mind. It was one of the coldest days of the year and the sun had already set, but I just had to go for a walk around the block because I hadn't been outside that day.

I don't really expect her to ever understand the logic of that decision - to be honest, I don't think I understand the logic - but I don't think I would have slept that night had I not gone outside for a bit.

However, though I have to be outside for a bit just about every day, I need to do it more. Sometimes being outside for five to 10 minutes is enough to put my mind at ease, and really that shouldn't be enough for me.

I have a long list of house and yard work that needs to be done. I want to do more woodworking projects in my garage. I have trees to cut down and was planning to expand the grassy area in my backyard. I also want to read more, and my deck is the perfect place for that, assuming the bugs won't carry me away.

If you're like me, it should not be too difficult to find things to do outside, so now that the weather seems to be cooperating, muster up some ambition and go do them.

Just be sure to pack some bug spray.

Dan Determan
Staff Writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper
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