It’s 2017! New Year’s Resolutions abound: eat better, exercise more, organize the garage like you’ve been promising for years. Here are some more fun resolutions to jumpstart your year in the outdoors in 2017.
1. Start a Dawn Patrol
Whatever you do, do it at sunrise. Yes, you’ll groan when the alarm clock goes off. But there’s nothing as rarefied as hitting the trail, the water, or the bike before the sun is up. It’s a potent combination of exercise, solitude, beauty and Zen you won’t get later in the day. Exercise studies say that the benefits of outdoor exercise also stay with you longer when done at dawn.
We all have outdoor sports we love. Branch out. Do other outdoor sports that compliment your usual favorite. In addition to keeping you from burning out, crosstraining gives your muscles and joints a critical break from the particular aches, strains and muscle imbalances that come from focusing a lot on any particular sport.
None of us are getting younger, and stretching will allow us to stay active and prevent injuries as we age. Be sure to warm up first, and stretch after exercise, not just before. If your sport involves a long car ride to and from the trailhead or ski hill, warm up and stretch after the drive.
4. Learn From A Pro
Outdoors folks value “figuring it out ourselves”. This tendency comes from a reliance on individual responsibility, independence, and ability to navigate changing conditions that’s at the core of the outdoor life. But this independence can often veer into inefficiency: we want to teach ourselves things that are faster learned from an expert. Get some professional instruction in the sport of your choice: skiing, paddling, cycling, surfing, climbing and so on. You’ll progress faster than “figuring it out as you go along” and you won’t develop bad habits along the way.
5. Become a Nature Nerd
Learn something about where you play: how to identify plants, what salamanders or intertidal creatures you’re looking at, how to identify birds by song, how to use a dichotomous key, or how to tell the snowy tracks of a mink from a long-tailed weasel. Become ecologically literate while you camp, hike, fish, paddle or ski. You’ll enjoy nature more with new windows into what’s going around you.
6. Get a Harvest
Come back with a full cooler, not an empty one. Learn to harvest mussels and clams, catch fish, go mushroom hunting, collect beach asparagus, or cook with kelp. Make the outdoors both your playground and your grocery store.
7. Throw a Dart at a Map
Break the habit of camping in the same places every year. Close your eyes and throw a dart at a map (what map is up to you). Explore new territory.
8. Rediscover your back 40
Camp as close to home as possible. Master the quick weekend getaway to the easy and close spot where you can enjoy sleeping under the stars, even if it’s close to your own bed. You’ll discover a new way of seeing your home landscape.
9. Get A Kid Outside
Data is piling up that nature is essential to kids’ mental, emotional, and physical development: reduced rates of obesity, diabetes, ADD, and depression, and higher test scores in school. Take your kids outside, again and again. Let them get muddy and tired, discover bugs and the feel of tree bark, soak in sunsets, and sleep outside. Don’t let it be the twice-a-summer big camping trip. Make being outside part of everyday life.
10. Roll up your sleeves
Pitch in. Volunteer to help with river cleanups, invasive weed pulls, trail maintenance, and the many ways that the rivers, mountains and forests need our help. Find a local organization online. National networks like the Waterkeeper Alliance and Trout Unlimited can help. Contribute time and money to the local groups that protect these places.
Like all New Year’s Resolutions, these promises are only as good as the effort we put in to turning them into reality. Here’s to an outdoorsy 2017!