When temperatures are regularly dipping to freezing or even lower, you’re probably thinking the last place you want to be is outdoors. It feels natural for us to hibernate during the colder months however, unlike bears and hedgehogs and as much as we feel like we want to, humans aren’t designed to sleep through winter. Lack of sunlight can affect our well-being emotionally and physically, plus it can throw the circadian rhythms off – which are not only responsible for our sleep/wake cycles but also keep everything from our moods to digestion in order.
So how exactly can throwing all the layers on and getting outside benefit your health? Read on to find out.
Firstly, if nothing else, being outside is almost guaranteed to improve your mood. Natural daylight can do a great job of raising serotonin levels – the chemical in your body that contributes to well-being and happiness. Serotonin levels in the brain are lowest in winter, and going outside has been shown to increase mood and alleviate depression. According to a study, light therapy has helped those with seasonal mood disorders such as SAD.
Get some vitamin D
It is almost impossible to get enough vitamin D from sunlight alone during winter. That being said, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take every opportunity get boost your vitamin D levels by getting yourself out for a brisk walk in the winter sunshine. Vitamin D supports immune function, reduces inflammation and can also help to contribute to serotonin levels.
Supports the immune system
As natural sunlight can increase vitamin D levels which then in turn supports immune function, it’s no surprise that getting outside can help your body fight off bacteria. As well as this, exercising outside can help fight off illnesses by flushing bacteria out of our airways and lungs.
How much time should we spend outdoors?
In an ideal world, we would spend as much time outdoors as possible. However in this day and age where we are always busy, getting outside for as little as 10 minutes a day can have a significant positive impact on our health.