‘What do you do if you’re sick?’ I still keep up the outdoor streak (Outdoor Diary)

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What do you do when you're sick?

It’s a question I’ve heard several times over my more than 2,300-day outdoor streak: ‘what do you do if you’re sick?’

Since I’ve never missed a day, and I’ve definitely been sick more than once, you can easily guess that I still go outside. And fortunately the benefits I find there — even though getting out in it takes extra effort — make it all worth it. Of course they do.

In this episode I talk about how (and why) I get outside even when I’m sick and down for the count. Listen now!

Some of the good stuff:

[:35] You can tell when I’m sick — probably

[:59] But then you might assume this

[2:11] I gotta get out there, but it’s winter, so…

[2:37] The best thing about the 20-minute minimum

[3:10] Plus, then I’m grateful

Connect with this episode:

Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.

When I’m sick, you’ll see the signs — though you probably won’t hear or read the words. If you follow me on Instagram, you might notice that many otherwise fine looking days in a row are spent on a simple walk in the woods or with me parked on a chair on the porch.

I don’t like to tell people I’m sick. I know, I know — everyone gets sick. But denial seems like a good way to make being sick go away, so I choose to not say a word about it.

One of the things about never telling anyone you’ve been sick, is that people assume being unwell is not something you’ve ever had to tackle. They assume that your outdoor streak hasn’t been broken by sickness because you’re never sick. And they assume that if you did get sick, you’d consider breaking the outdoor streak.

But no no. After more than 2,300 days outside? Breaking my streak for sickness doesn’t feel like a viable option.

Before I talk about how I handle getting outside when I’m sick I’ll make this caveat: I’ve never been hospitalized overnight or had to grapple with real, true SICKNESS, what the bible would call “sickness unto death” if you know what I mean. The one time I had surgery during this streak I simply got up early and went for a walk first.

The rest of my sick times? Terrible colds or flus. COVID at least thrice despite all prevention things. And most recently this terrible cold or flu or something that I apparently picked up from who knows where. Coughing. Congestion. Downright terrible and boy howdy did I not feel well at all. I spent an entire afternoon and evening just laying on the couch watching TV which I have to tell you is very, very unlike me.

If the weather was nice, I would still get outside by plopping myself on the porch under a pile of blankets, and just feel miserable there instead of on the couch. But it’s not. It’s cold. And that means if I’m going to be outside, I gotta be moving.

That means for my outdoor time when I’m sick, whether I want to or not I’m going for a walk or, if it’s not too much work, stepping into my cross country skis which is basically like walking if you’re moving slowly enough.

I put on my layers. I invite the dog to come with me, because if there’s anyone who likes slow walks it’s him, and out I go.

The wonderful thing about an outdoor habit that revolves around time and not a specific activity, is that 20 minutes passes whether you’re taking your time just to move a little and breathe or you’re in a super hurry and speed walking. 20 minutes is 20 minutes whether you’re sick or healthy.

What do I do about my outdoor habit when I’m sick? I go outside anyway. Slowly. With lots of deep breaths to feel the fresh air in my lungs, wearing lots of layers to keep me warm and on the road to getting healthy, and possibly with a pocket full of kleenex.

And I’m going to be honest — in some ways it’s on the days that I’m sick and have to make myself go outside to keep the outdoor habit going that I’m the most grateful I have it. Because those are the days that, were it not for my habit, I most certainly would not have bothered. And I’m grateful for the push.

You can visit Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram and see if you can spot my series of sick outside days. Join me by sharing your photos in sickness and in health with #humansoutside365. And until next time, we’ll see you out there… but I promise not in person until I’m totally well.

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