There’s no doubt that winter is coming. The leaves are changing color, and the air smells like fall, which means one thing: cold weather! Unfortunately for those who love spending time outside in nature, it can be challenging to motivate ourselves to go out there. But getting outside in all seasons should be a priority even if you don’t feel like it. Our bodies were made to move and live amongst nature. When we spend too much time indoors, it takes a toll on us, so we must find ways to get outside and reconnect with nature. Below are some of the amazing ways getting outside this winter can benefit you.
Stress relief is a significant health benefit of getting outside in the winter. When you’re out among nature, your body releases endorphins, which make us feel good and happy! These positive emotions can decrease stress levels by reducing cortisol. Spending time outdoors also stimulates nerve endings under our skin called “Merkel discs.” These send signals to the brain about what’s happening around us, so we have a natural sense of safety and security when connecting with nature. It also fights Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) because it produces serotonin, dopamine, melatonin & growth hormones.
Improves Physical Health
Getting outside improves physical health!! Amongst these benefits are increased oxygen intake through breathing deeply while working up a sweat, lower blood sugar levels due to increased physical activity, and improved muscle strength/quality for the same reason. Exposure to sunlight also provides us with Vitamin D, which improves bone health & reduces the risk of certain cancers. Your physical health is deeply affected by your mental health, so getting outside & enjoying nature can be a great way to improve both!
Burns Calories & Increases Energy
Getting outside in the winter is not only good for your mental health, but it’s also great for your physical well-being! You can burn up to 300 extra calories per day by walking briskly (around four miles) through natural elements like snow. Not only will this help you slim down and tone muscles, but it’ll increase energy levels because of an increased heart rate & improved circulation that comes with being active outdoors. The more time you spend exercising outside, the less likely you are to become sedentary, leading to weight gain/obesity.
Increases Your Vitamin D Levels
Another important health benefit of getting outside in the winter is that it increases your Vitamin D levels! Spending time outdoors stimulates vitamin D production, which helps regulate calcium absorption for stronger bones and teeth. It also regulates insulin secretion so you can maintain healthy blood sugar levels and may prevent certain cancers too! Vitamin D is also important for a healthy immune system, so being outside in the winter will help you fight off colds/flu and keep your energy levels up throughout the day!
Build Self-Esteem And Confidence Through Achievement
One of the most important benefits of getting outside in the winter is building self-esteem and confidence through achievement. If you’re able to get out into nature with ease, then you’ve already won half of your battle! This newfound resilience will help boost your moods and give you an extra burst of motivation when things start feeling challenging or overwhelming. You’ll gain a sense of accomplishment from knowing that you faced something difficult head-on and came out victorious by conquering the obstacle in front of you.
Helps You Sleep Better
Getting outside in the winter helps you sleep better because it increases your overall exposure to natural light. A lack of adequate sunlight during the winter months causes SAD and disrupts our circadian rhythms, which controls when we feel sleepy or awake. When this rhythm is disrupted, it puts us at risk for developing insomnia and obesity & insulin resistance (which can lead to diabetes). The more time that you spend outdoors-especially between the hours of 11 am-12 pm, will help boost serotonin production, which naturally regulates melatonin levels, so you’re able to fall asleep easier!
Improves Your Mood
Another health benefit that ties into the overall theme of getting outside and boosting your mood! Studies show that spending time outdoors can improve our moods by reducing stress & anxiety. It also reduces feelings of depression which helps contribute to a better overall sense of well-being. Getting outside in the winter for as little as 30 minutes per day will give you an instant boost, even if it’s just through walking around your neighborhood or going for a short run.