Exception 7 – Not Just Another Loophole

March 28, 2020

Exception 7 – Not Just Another Loophole

Watson Country Outdoor Report.

By Joan Young, MCP/OCP outdoors writer.

The Watson Country Outdoor Report is a presentation of the Watson Auto Group, selling Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Fiat in Ludington, Manistee, Benzie and Rockford. “Every season there’s a reason to visit Watson Country. For more information, visit watsoncountry.com

As we all struggle to interpret what the directive to “stay home” means, the jokes and frustrations about “essential services” abound and grow.

The essentials have been listed under exceptions to the shelter in place orders. Exception 7 reads: “Individuals may leave their home or place of residence, and travel as necessary: To engage in outdoor activity, including walking, hiking, running, cycling, or any other recreational activity consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household.”

The evidence that time spent outdoors is good for both physical and mental health has been accumulating for years. Let’s not toss that out with the trash when it’s most needed!

Somehow, as our faith in medical advancement has grown, as a society we’ve pooh-poohed the ancient remedy of throwing open the windows and letting in the fresh air and sunshine. For example, award-winning architect Thomas Story Kirkbride who designed the Traverse City State Hospital and many other such facilities, planned the buildings in such a way that air circulation and sunlight were maximized. There was a good reason for this. It helps people heal.

This is not to say that we should discount medical intervention. I’m just saying that we need to remember that there are valid reasons for taking advantage of sunshine and fresh air.

Sunshine is the natural source of vitamin D. While the “recommended dose” of time to spend in the sun varies from expert to expert, you won’t get any vitamin D at all sitting in the house. Vitamin D helps activate the immune system. Deficiency has long been known to increase the risk and severity of viral infections.

The ultra-violet rays in sunlight are literally cleansing. Ultra-violet light is used to purify water, sterilize hospitals, and clean surfaces. Ultra-violet light kills viruses. Exposure to natural light is known to stabilize our body rhythms. In other words, getting outdoors helping us to be productive during the day and to sleep at night.  At this time of year, there is little danger of sunburn. Extra sensitive people can take precautions to protect their skin.

And what about fresh air? Polluted air has been scientifically associated with more severe respiratory problems. Viruses and bacteria can attach to airborne particles (dust, dander, soot, cigarette smoke) and are easily pulled into our lungs as we breathe. The EPA has listed indoor air pollution as one of the top five risks to public health for years.

Air out your house on mild days- we’re finally experiencing some. West Michigan has a high number of places you can get outdoors to take a walk. In many cases you won’t even see another person, let alone need to remain six feet apart. But if you do meet others, just give them a cheerful greeting from a distance and continue on.

The sunshine, rain, snow, and eventually warmer temperatures will do their job to kill any virus droplets that may fall onto the ground. Meanwhile, we need to protect the health of society by doing our part. However, a portion of our part should be to maintain our own mental health and strengthen our immune systems.

Taking a hike or going for a bike ride, canoeing, fishing, and enjoying a campfire are not prohibited. In fact, although public rest rooms, visitor centers, and gathering places at state and federal lands may be closed, the trails and open spaces are there to be used. The recreation passport fee has been waived at Michigan State Parks until further notice. People are reminded to maintain the physical distance of six feet from people outside their own households. But as long as we adhere to this basic precaution, we can glean the benefits of being outside on millions of acres of public land.

Go outdoors! Even if you can only go to your backyard, get some sun and fresh air. If you can, find a trail and take a stroll, ride, or hike. Warmer weather is just around the corner.

Joan H. Young has enjoyed the out-of-doors her entire life. Girl Scouting provided yearly training in camp skills, and the opportunity to engage in a 10-day canoe trip. She rode a bicycle from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean in 1986, and completed the North Country National Scenic Trail in 2010, becoming the first woman to hike the entire trail. The books North Country Cache and North Country Quest recount stories of her adventure.

She writes an award-winning monthly column for the Ludington Daily News called “Get Off the Couch.”

She has recently begun writing more fiction, including short stories, mysteries and mysteries for children.

See getoffthecouch.info for places to recreate locally

Contact Joan Young at jhyshark@gmail.com

This story is copyrighted © 2020, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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