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8 Incredible Side Effects of an Outdoor Lifestyle

Why should time outside be a priority in our busy schedules? Here are the top 8 side effects of an outdoor lifestyle.

A few years back my dad loaned me a book titled Men to Match our Mountains by Jay Lawson. A game warden by trade, Lawson chronicles the life stories of some of Wyoming's noteworthy outdoorsmen of the early 20th century in this book. From hunters to loggers, and wildlife biologists to game wardens, the stories it tells are personal and help to tell the story of the West. After reading the book one thing became starkly clear; these folks who had spent their entire lives in the outdoors had led good, happy, and healthy lives.

In a world where things are becoming increasingly evaluated by the amount of cash they either produce or lose, it's important to remember not everything valuable is silver and gold. That being said, here is my list of the top eight side effects of an outdoor lifestyle.

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All photos by the author.


1. Health

Being outdoors hunting, fishing, camping, trapping, and so on, requires a good deal of energy. Although some folks bemoan the labor involved, some celebrate it and thrive on the physical aspect of the outdoors. Physical activity is one of the top side effects of an outdoor lifestyle because it actually increases your life span. Working hard gets the heart pumping and helps to clear out arteries and veins to get them flowing smooth. Sweating helps the body release toxins built up in the body. Activity helps to alleviate stress and clear the mind. As Americans are figuring out, invest in your health early with exercise, and you can help save yourself huge costs down the road.

2. Nutrition

Lean meat like this does a body good.
Lean meat like this does a body good.

Animals like deer, elk, geese, ducks, and fish all provide us with lean sources of protein to keep our bodies going. Most folks who hunt and fish don't entirely subsist on wile game, but substituting it once in a while for a tasty cheeseburger can help the body in the long run. Also, while outdoors you might also run into other tasty snacks like berries, asparagus, or the succulent morel mushroom. If you know what you're looking for, you can get quite a bit of healthy food and these snacks are great side effects of an outdoor lifestyle.

3. Experience

Perhaps some of the most memorable side effects of an outdoor lifestyle are the experiences you have. Memories of watching geese glide across the horizon with a blazing sunset providing a backdrop, or the lonesome call of the coyote beneath a full moon on the endless prairie, and a million other memories, all add spice to this thing we call life. I've spent plenty of time behind a computer screen and comfortable away from the conditions of the outdoors. The fact is, very few of these warm and comfortable moments are the ones that stand out in my memory. It's when we get out an truly experience the world that we have the most meaningful experiences.

4. Knowledge

Nearly all outdoor pursuits get us outside and interacting with animals, plants, and the land itself. Over the years people who spend time outdoors develop a tremendous body of knowledge about the world around them. We might not become John Muir or Aldo Leopold but we will each learn more in our own regard. In a world where kids think eggs come from the store and spend more time looking at a virtual world than at the actual world, possessing this knowledge, however much or little, is a valuable piece of knowledge to own.

5. Stories

Who doesn't like a good story? Storytelling is part of humanity in all corners of the world. Maybe it stems back from nights long ago when all men huddled around campfires to stay alive, or maybe just out of a desire to be entertained, we all love a story. People who spend much of their time outdoors end up with lots of stories to tell. Stories of great hunts, legendary fishing holes, historic cold snaps, and all the bloopers in between, tell the tale of our lives in the outdoors. Sharing these stories can not only help others in their outdoor pursuits, but also create laughter between a group of friends as we share our most recent blunder.

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Telling stories around the campfire with family. What could be better than that?

6. Camaraderie

Stories are one of the top side effects of an outdoor lifestyle, and the bonds they create between people are a great way to build friendships. The relationships we build in life are some of the most important things we accumulate throughout our lifetime. Old hunting and fishing buddies can always sit down and spin yarns about their past exploits and enjoy each other's company. Not only does passion for the outdoors connect us with people we've known in the past, but also helps us to make new friendships in the future. Walk into a room of people who share your love of the outdoors and it is easy to make new friends.

7. History

Lakota warrior Crazy Horse is credited with saying "A people without a history is like wind on the buffalo grass." My interpretation of what he is saying is that having a history gives direction to your life, rather than drifting about aimlessly. If you hunt, fish, camp, trap, or whatever, odds are you are not the first in your family to do so. If you are, you're definitely not the first person in humanity to take part. These pursuits give our life a direction and keep us grounded instead of jumping from fad to fad like so many people do these days.

8. The Frills

Man's best friend. Another great thing about enjoying the outdoors.
Man's best friend. Another great thing about enjoying the outdoors.

Finally how can a list of the top side effects of an outdoor lifestyle be complete without addressing some people's favorite part; the frills. I'm talking about muddy trucks, wearing camouflage, man caves, and energetic hunting dogs. All the extras that come along with a healthy outdoor life might be what some people love most.

In the end, there are so many benefits from an outdoor lifestyle that it's hard to put them all down on a list. I'm sure I've missed a few, and perhaps left your favorite off. Hopefully though, when it's all said and done your life might be like those historic men and women in Jay Lawson's book: good, happy, and healthy.

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8 Incredible Side Effects of an Outdoor Lifestyle