Outside during winter? Who would have thought?

Here in the northern states we tend to hide in our homes when the mercury drops and, like the precognitive groundhog, don’t emerge again until spring.  But there are plenty of reasons to venture out of doors during the winter months.  Some of which you may not have known about.

No More Winter Blues

The colder weather, along with the endless succession of cloudy days, can lead to depression from spending too much time inside.  Getting outside, even for a little while, can help relieve some of the winter doldrums.  Sunlight, yes it’s there even if it’s hard to see, can actually improve your mood by releasing neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood.  Exercise does the same thing.  So take up a winter sport, go on a winter walk, do some wildlife watching or photography, or just make a snowman in your front yard.  You’ll feel better.

Vitamin D

Sunlight also has the added benefit of providing us with much needed Vitamin D.  Vitamin D is essential to developing bones and fighting off illness and disease.  It has also been shown to give your immune system a boost, something that may prove very beneficial this flu season.  Many adults and children don’t get enough Vitamin D in their diets, but the sun benefits us by letting us absorb it through our skin!  Just be sure not to expose too much skin, it is winter after all.

Fresh Air Anyone?

Being outside can have a multitude of positive affects on your health.  One of the simplest is just being able to get fresh air.  Getting out gets you away from the cleaning fumes, detergents, automobile exhaust, or second-hand smoke you might be breathing on a daily basis.  Nature also helps people relax.  By stepping away from the cell phone, TV, and internet you are able to form a connection to nature and forget the to-do list – for awhile at least.

Better Overall Health

Anyone who has spent time working behind a desk is familiar with how your eyes feel at the end of a long day.  In this type of environment, we spend most of our time focusing on things directly in front of us – computers, paperwork, etc.  Nature relieves that eye strain by giving your eyes several different things to focus on at several different distances.  Think of it as an exercise for your pupils.  In addition, studies have shown that memory performance and attention spans improved by 2o% in people after they spent an hour outdoors.  Going outside also has therapeutic affects that can increase your energy levels, something everyone needs from time to time.

Wildlife Opportunities

Even in winter, there are a lot of birds and mammals out and about.  If you are interested in seeing more animals in your area, winter might be the best time to do it.  Since a lot of the trees have lost their leaves and the ground cover has died back, there is less vegetation for animals to hide in.  Take a quiet stroll through a park, nature center, or even your yard and see how much you can find.

Don’t think there are accessible natural areas in your area?  Visit the Natural Wildlife Federation’s Nature Find page.  You might find yourself pleasantly surprised.

Hopefully this has inspired you to bundle up, brave the elements, and get outdoors for some winter fun!

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