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For many of us, a new calendar year marks the time to make resolutions or reflect on changes we’d like to make to our lives. As we continue to manage life in the pandemic, it might be healthiest to consider simple changes we can follow through on even when spending time at home. So, here’s a simple one to consider: how about spending a little more time outside this year?

There’s a reason we use the expression, “a breath of fresh air” to describe something that makes things seem more exciting. Getting outdoors is refreshing, even in the winter. In a previous column, I’ve encouraged embracing life outdoors in the winter, adopting the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv, which National Geographic defines as, “a commitment to celebrating time outdoors, no matter the weather forecast.”

I invite you to join neighbors, Cass County Conservation, and Healthy Cass County in taking the 120 Hours Outdoors in 2021 Challenge. In case you’re wondering, that number averages out to a little over two hours a week.

Participants who reach milestones of 30, 60, 90, and 120 hours outdoors will be eligible to win prizes from local businesses including Brown’s Shoe Fit, Jazzercise, Bike Farm, Olsen’s Outdoor Power and more.

It’s great to get your heartrate up when you’re outdoors, but the 120 Hours Challenge allows you to count any time you spend outside—that includes time when you’re sitting. So whether you’re walking, cross country skiing, dragging a sled up a hill, joining Cass County Conservation for a snowshoe event, or sitting around a bonfire, the time counts.

Another bonus? In addition to helping us feel refreshed—and potentially winning us prizes—outdoors is the safest place to meet up with friends and family during the pandemic. Just remember to continue to mask and distance.

If you’d like to get outdoors but can’t afford the gear (hats, gloves, coats, boots), contact West Central at 712-243-5421 to set up an appointment to check out their free winter clothing.

If you have gently-used winter gear that you’d like to donate, West Central welcomes your donations. Again, just call ahead to set up a time to drop off, and thank you!

To register for the 120 House Outdoors Challenge: contact Cass County Interpretive Naturalist Lora Kanning at 712-769-2372 or (Are you a business owner who would be willing to donate a prize to this contest? Please contact me!)

Let’s step outside a little more often in 2021.

Thanks for all you do to keep Cass County healthy, and Happy New Year!


Follow Healthy Cass County on Facebook @HealthyCassCounty for more community wellness news and events.
Bio: Brigham Hoegh is Cass County’s Wellness Coordinator, a position jointly funded by Cass County Board of Supervisors, Cass County ISU Extension, Cass County Public Health, and the Nishna Valley Family YMCA. Brigham serves as a connector and bridge builder between local groups focused on community health and wellness initiatives, including Healthy Cass County (on Facebook @HealthyCassCounty) and the Cass County Local Food Policy Council (on Facebook @CassCountyLocalFood).

Email Jeff Lundquist at

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