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New Year, New You: Go Outside and Do Things!

By Casey Smith, naturalist

It’s a new year and time for those resolutions. We make them every year, but how many of us follow through with them? Every year, my resolution is to live healthier, eat better, wake up earlier to run a few miles every day, and take my kids outside more. And then there are birthday parties, and cake, and holidays, and cookouts, and work, and life, and sleep, glorious sleep, that usually end up taking over where those resolutions used to be.

If you’re like me and want to be healthier in the new year, simply spending more time outdoors might be the best resolution you can make. Here are some reasons to spend more time outside in 2018.

  • Spending time outdoors:
    • Boosts your immune system
    • Reduces stress
    • Lowers blood pressure
    • Improves your mood
    • Can reduce symptoms related to ADD and ADHD
    • Can improve focus and concentration
    • Can help patients recover faster from surgery
    • Improves short term memory
    • Can reduce near-sightedness in children
    • Improves sleep quality
    • Improves physical health
    • Through walking, can help manage the symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions; nearly 4,000 years ago, they made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. However, their new year began in March when crops were planted. In Rome, it was Julius Caesar who – in 46 BC –  established January 1 as the beginning of the new year. January is named for the two-faced god Janus who symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future. Ancient Romans offered sacrifices to Janus and made promises of good conduct for the coming year. Today, we don’t make sacrifices, and New Year’s resolutions are promises we make only to ourselves. And while only 8 percent of Americans are successful in achieving the goals they set for themselves in the new year, resolutions aren’t going away any time soon. So make it your resolution this year to Go Outside and Do Things.

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