Dreading the cold, many people say goodbye to outdoor activities once the summer months come to an end. Most people prefer to spend the winter months inside their warm homes. But you might be surprised at just how many mental and physical benefits to spending time outside, especially when the weather is cold.
Because it is widely believed that being outside in the cold can make people sick, people would rather spend their days staying warm and cozy. The truth, however, is that staying out in the cold will not make you sick. A runny nose may develop, but this is only the body’s way of removing bacteria.
So, for the coming winter months this year, here are a few benefits to spending time outside that may convince you to stay out in the cold.
1. Improving your mental health
Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), defined by a period of depression throughout the winter months. Individuals suffering from this illness may also experience exhaustion or an increased appetite. Light exposure is the most effective treatment for SAD, so a simple stroll outside among the trees can significantly enhance your mood. Even those not suffering from this disorder can experience shifts in mood and sleep patterns, and a little sunlight can get them back on track!
2. Get enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D, which we absorb from the sun, can affect our moods. It is also essential in promoting bone health and preventing diseases. When we’re stuck inside our homes for the winter months, we lack this vitamin, and some take supplements to counteract this. The best way to get this vitamin daily is to spend some time outside for a few minutes every day.
3. Improve creativity and focus
Multiple studies show that even a small amount of time spent outdoors during winter can boost brain function and focus. For example, one National Institute of Health study found that children with ADHD can concentrate more when they spend time outside in a park or place with nature surrounding them than in residential neighborhoods.
Also, since children are exposed to a new environment with new conditions they are not used to, it gives them a chance to improve their cognitive development. They will increase their problem-solving skills and force them to approach their daily activities in a new light. For example, they will realize that walking too fast on icy roads can lead to slipping and falling.
4. Burn more calories
Various studies over the years have found that the human body burns more calories in the cold than in the heat. While we’re in the cold, our bodies need to burn more calories to keep warm, raising our base metabolic rate. While this doesn’t mean that you will be shedding pounds by spending time in the cold, you can be more healthy by simply taking some walks each week.