Research tells us that regardless your age, exercising just 30 minutes daily of even mild to moderate walking increases energy levels, improves mood, and actually increases longevity. I submit that doing this outside is even better, weather permitting. Of course, on the northern high plains, sometimes the weather forces us to an indoor gym or to the personal exercise machine in the basement to get activity, but that’s OK too.
However, when we can, we should get out of the igloo and do our exercise outside. When the sun’s rays come pouring through our pupils, they not only give us vitamin D to strengthen our bones, but those rays tell our brains that we are alive. The views we see of the outside clue us into the changing cycle-rhythm of the day and season, prevent that seasonal affective disorder, and provide for a sense of a spiritual light of hope. Going outside, when possible, is very good for us.
Better yet, getting outside in South Dakota every season of the year makes the modern adventurer realize why they call this the “Land of Infinite Variety”. I especially relish my daily one-mile round trip walking trek to my morning café for breakfast and coffee (even in inclement weather when I have to put on boots and get all bundled up in my hooded 40 below winter coat). That said, there are many pleasant days in South Dakota throughout all four seasons.
I have wonderful memories of enjoying the outside in South Dakota. These include Black Hills riding snow-mobiles, down-hill skiing, and steep hill hiking to the summit of Black Elk’s Peak; spring and fall hiking through Oakwood Lakes and Lake Poinsett State Parks; sailing in the yearly Lake Poinsett Sailing Regatta; road biking through and around our community of Brookings; east and west river pheasant and deer hunting with friends; working in my vegetable and pepper garden; and walking or running some distance almost EVERY DAY for the last 40 years.
Take it from an experienced physician who has lived here for 57 out of his 69 years and who thinks he’s seen it all. Nothing comes close to improving one’s emotional and physical health than being an active interested person who gets outside and savors all four seasons on the northern high plains land of infinite variety.