My first thought was this is what how right that was. I was feeling terrific as I sat by our cozy wood stove. I’d just been out clearing several inches of light, fluffy, easy-to-shovel snow from our deck and paths. It was about 20 degrees out, and if the air wasn’t completely still, the wind was from the west and blocked by a nearby hill. It was night, after a long day of sitting at a desk, and it was just terrific to be outside moving and watching as the moon peaked out and disappeared behind the thin cloud cover. I was reminded as I worked, how very wide human’s range of vision is, how very big the space around us can be. And really, how much closer can you get to activity near water than shifting snow?
And I thought what a wonderful ad this made for kayaking. But then I found the University of Essex article about the study and discovered the researchers found just five minutes of outdoor activity produced the largest positive effect.
Really? I would get the same mood boost whether I just walked down to my boats and back up the hill than if I got in the boats and paddled up to see what was happening up river? The same mood boost from clearing just a part of the deck as completing the job?
Now, I understand that not all of us (myself especially) are going to circumnavigate Australia, or even Ireland, and that doesn’t mean we don’t have a sense of accomplishment.
For years I’ve paddled under various bridges over streams leading into the Penobscot, and wondered, could I get under all three bridges in the same tide cycle? Turns out I can, and that’s one of the achievements I’m proudest of for 2010. And there are some people for whom a five minute walk outside is a challenging goal, and who feel great pride on achieving that goal - as well they should.
But though achieving the Three Bridge Challenge definitely improved my mood, I’m pretty sure setting and achieving a bigger goal would help my self-esteem more.
So, I’m not sure who those University of Essex folks surveyed and studied, but I’m pretty positive that there is a measurable difference between the mood boost from exercising outside for just five minutes and spending a day paddling out to Isle Au Haut and back. Though, in a pinch, when my workload is high, it is nice just to sit by the Penobscot and dream of summer……