Feeling Sick? Get Outside

This is the time of the year when illness and cold weather seem to be the most debilitating factors in people getting outside, and with good reason! Both make us uncomfortable and less enthusiastic about adventures in general. It's only natural.

While extreme temperatures can be reconciled with good gear and heavy layers, being sick may just be keeping us out of the fresh air our bodies actually need. We don't feel well, and the couch is a whole lot more enticing than any walk in a winter wonderland. But, here's the thing: getting outdoors in any capacity is better than none at all. Disclaimer: I'm not talking about extreme illness here - just the sniffles and aches of a cold or flu that take away all our motivation. Essentially the gunk that is circulating across the country.

get outside when sick

While it's important to be realistic about your limitations and what your body can handle (you likely won't be bagging any serious peaks), a short hike or ski or snowshoe may just be what your body needs.

Seriously down and out? Throw a hammock between a couple trees, bundle up and take an outdoor nap. You'll reap the benefits of some fresh air AND some extra sleep to help yourself heal.

nap in a hammock Photo courtesy of Cristian Bortes

Why bother making the extra effort to get out while sick:

  • Outdoor air is fresher compared to indoor air which is just recirculated, especially during the colder winter months

  • Increased Vitamin D from sunlight helps boost mood AND health

  • Light exercise while sick helps get the heart pumping and the body moving, which helps "clear the fog"

  • When an illness has the whole family down - getting out gives everyone a chance to re-set and begin again. Having sick kids can be stressful on everyone — it's ok to do it for you too!

  • You usually rest better after outside time

  • Contrary to the popular wive's tale, outside time will not perpetuate illness (save for pollen-induced or respiratory illnesses effected by cold weather)

  • It's a break from the couch/bed, even if it's short-lived

  • In general, the outside time that is a part of our daily life keeps them from getting sick (usually) in the first place.

So, grab your kleenex and a water bottle and head out - even 15 minutes helps!

posted by
Amelia Mayer
As a member of #TeamSierra, Amelia Mayer receives promotional consideration from Sierra Trading Post. Amelia lives with her husband and three young children in Yellowstone National Park. She writes over at Tales of a Mountain Mama and tweets, too, about their attempts to continue an active, outdoor lifestyle now that babies and kids are in the mix while hiking, camping, biking, skiing and doing plenty of exploring. She shares her triumphs, lessons learned (often the hard way) and best picks for gear to help get families outside.
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