The cold, short days of winter are hardly the optimum time to advocate making "getting outdoors" a priority in your 2018 wellness routine. But with anxiety and depression at an all-time high, it's just not something you can afford to miss out on. Plus, the immediate benefits of getting some fresh air far outweigh the excuses not to—and any time of year is the best time to begin. Once you start doing so, you’ll see what I mean.
You may say, "Sure, this is an easy agenda for a mountain-climbing guy to push; he’s already acclimated to some of the toughest outdoor conditions on the planet." And while it’s true that I’ve made a career of being in the outdoors, it wasn’t always this way. I grew up living indoors just fine. In fact, according to the original game plan, I should be tucked inside a hospital as a doctor right now. That was my parents' dream for me and, up until college, it was the course I had charted for myself. What changed all that? Getting outdoors, of course.
Before taking pre-med school courses at Georgetown University, each freshman was required to participate in an outdoor leadership program. At the time, it was being run by Chris Warner, one of America’s better-known mountaineers. I became obsessed with it, and I soon found myself outdoors throughout the course of my undergraduate journey, and I fell in love with it.
Being outdoors, successfully besting physical challenges and seeing a world beyond classroom lectures and book learning, gave me enthusiasm and a zest for living. I convinced my parents, and the Jesuits at Georgetown, to let me indulge in a gap year before taking on med school. I spent that time climbing mountains all over the world. I was addicted to the sun and air and the snow. So, when it came time to go back to school, and the university denied my request for an additional gap year, I had to decide whether I should follow my passion and the love of the outdoors or return indoors for years of intense study.
My parents had always supported being passionate about what you do, and I decided being outdoors and turning others on to the outdoors through my adventure guide service was what I wanted to do.
While I don’t expect you to drop everything and devote your life to climbing the world’s tallest peaks, I can say, with some authority, that building outdoor activities into your daily routine will do wonders for your overall physical and mental health. Here's why.