Right now, it’s snowing outside. The sky and the ground, and it seems everything in between, are white or gray or (even worse) that disgusting shade of brown that comes when fresh snow mixes with dirt and gets splattered all over unsuspecting pedestrians by cars. In other words, it’s not exactly the time of year when people relish going outside. During the heart of January (which also can be described as the heart of winter) most people are not going for strolls in the Arb, or going on long-distance runs through campus — although I still see the most dedicated runners sprinting through the tundra that is “Ann Arbtica” and I don’t think I’ve ever been more impressed.

Students bundle up in huge, puffy jackets, ski masks, hats, gloves and sometimes even multiple pairs of pants (wait, that might just be me…) to quickly shuffle through Michigan’s icy weather. They barely register their surroundings, allowing their vision to be terribly impaired by drooping, fur-lined hoods and hats that fall far below the typical brow line of any human. And if we can avoid walking, we will. The magic bus app becomes essential to life and, when the prices aren’t surging, Uber becomes our best friend.

But maybe this trend of avoiding the icy weather isn’t for the best. Now, I’m not saying that we should lay out tanning in the freezing weather, but the freezing quality of nature right now does not take away from its beauty. Snow dances in the wind and gets caught in the waving branches of naked trees. Footsteps through the snow make campus feel lived in, and the Arb looks straight out of a fairy tale. Plus, being outside in the cold makes me feel more alive. The blood rushes to my cheeks, and there is a crispness to the cold that is a welcome break from the stress and — let’s be honest — boredom that came from hunching over textbooks and homework for hours on end in a heat-controlled environment.

Going outside is good for our health, regardless of the weather. According to Abigail Wise of The Huffington Post, spending time outdoors actually increases concentration skills and creativity. It is also energizing: “20 minutes outside can wake you up just as much as one cup of coffee can.”

So next time you wake up for your 8 a.m. and your phone lets you know that it’s six degrees out but feels like minus-11, don’t despair. Stay bundled, but maybe don’t blindly hustle through the cold. Breathe in the fresh air and look up into the swirl of snowflakes. Enjoy the crunch of snow beneath your waterproof boots and the vague stinging feeling in your cheeks. Just know that time spent walking outside taking in the (thick, cloud-covered) sunlight will make you feel better, sharper and more motivated to get work done.

In fact, when I’m done writing this, I think I’m going to go for a walk in the Arb. It’s 25 degrees — practically a heat wave!

Eliana Herman can be reached at erherman@umich.edu.

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