This article was originally published by Lisa Egan at Tess Pennington’s ReadyNutrition.com
Tess is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint: How To Survive ANY Disaster
Brrrr! Winter is here, and if it is chilly in your neck of the woods, you might be tempted to hunker down and stay indoors until Spring arrives.
Winter can really take a toll on our moods, making even the warmest personalities turn as chilly as the air outside. It’s getting dark at 5 pm now, and you might find yourself making excuses to stay inside, bundled up in cozy blankets in front of the fire.
However, staying indoors during the colder months won’t do anything to improve your mood or your health – in fact, research suggests the opposite is true.
You don’t have to spend hours outside to reap the benefits. Just a few minutes a day has been proven to improve mood and physical health.
So, bundle up and get out there!
Here are six reasons to get outside during winter.
Sunlight helps your body produce Vitamin D.
On sunny days, go outside and soak up some of the “Sunshine Vitamin” – Vitamin D. It is unique in that it is a vitamin AND a hormone your body can make with help from the sun. Research suggests that low levels of vitamin D are associated with mood disorders and depression.
Vitamin D deficiency is not uncommon. Because we spend more time indoors during winter, it can be hard to get enough – which is why getting some sunlight is so important during the colder months.
Some vitamin D researchers have found that somewhere between 5–30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 AM and 3 PM at least twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen usually leads to sufficient vitamin D synthesis. Indoor light therapy can help, too.
Time outdoors boosts your immune system.
Being outside improves our immune systems. This is especially important for children, as it helps them build up their natural resistance to various germs. When children come into contact with dirt, bacteria, and animals during outside play, they are helping to reduce the risk of developing allergies and autoimmune diseases in the future.
As for being concerned that the cold makes us more susceptible to illness, as we explained in Immune System-Boosting Nutrients You May Need During Fall and Winter, the truth is more complicated:
Being cold doesn’t directly cause us to get sick, but cold air may contribute to conditions that lead to illness, according to a report by Healthline. Factors related to colder weather may actually be the culprits. Some viruses prefer the chillier weather, including rhinoviruses (they cause the common cold and replicate better at cooler temperatures) and influenza viruses (they peak in winter). The dry air outside and in homes with central heating may make it easier for viruses to infect dry nasal passages. Low indoor humidity and poor ventilation may also play a role. And, because we tend to spend more time inside with other people during the colder months, we are more likely to share germs.
Fresh air is good for you.
Getting outside helps your body get a break from indoor pollution. It is important to get fresh air because all of the bacteria and germs that you bring into the house get recycled over and over again through your home’s heating and venting system. The more time you spend inside, the more you are exposed.
Studies have shown that walking outside can improve brain function, mental focus, and creativity.
Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather. Try layering your clothing and be sure to wear proper footwear, especially if you will be walking on snow or ice.
It will help you reduce stress.
Research has shown that the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku (“taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing”) is an excellent stress-reducer. Because stress plays a role in so many ailments (it can adversely affect the immune, cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and central nervous systems) including heart disease, weight gain, insomnia, pain, gastrointestinal disorders, and even cancer, getting outside can provide wide-ranging health benefits.
Being outside can boost your mood.
Natural light boosts serotonin, one of your body’s feel-good chemicals. “Physiologically, we know serotonin levels in the brain are lowest in winter. Going outside can increase positive mood and alleviate depression,” Kathryn A. Roecklein, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, told NBC News:
Roecklien conducted a study revealing how light therapy can help those with seasonal mood disorders. “We know that inside light levels are lower than outside light levels. And we know winter light levels are lower than summer light levels. So being inside for a majority of the winter may be a double strike in terms of getting the light we need for energy levels, alertness, mood and cognitive functioning,” she explains.
You’ll burn more calories.
If you exercise outside in the cold, your body actually burns more calories to regulate your core temperature. Some winter-specific outdoor activities, like skiing and ice skating, burn a lot of calories and are fun for the whole family.
Studies also have shown that exercising in cold weather can transform white fat (specifically belly and thigh fat) into “brown fat”. Brown fat is often referred to as “good” fat because it helps to burn rather than store calories – its purpose is to use calories to generate heat.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism showed people have more genetic markers for brown fat in the winter than during the warmer months.
And, research conducted at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands found that exercising in the cold burns fat quicker than exercising in comfortable temperatures. This is because deposits of brown fat are activated as the body learns to warm up faster.
Dr. Adam Tenforde, an assistant professor of sports medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard-affiliated Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, told Harvard Health that in some ways, winter can offer benefits you don’t get during warmer months. Cold weather may improve endurance, he explains:
“In colder temperatures your heart doesn’t have to work as hard, you sweat less, and expend less energy, all of which means you can exercise more efficiently.”
So there you have it! Are you finding ways to spend time outside this winter? If so, please tell us about it in the comments.
Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.
Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals.
Visit her website at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.
Be sure to wear your MAGA hat to melt the snowflakes.
-30 F temperatures are no fucking problem whatsoever if you learn the layering system.
People are such pussies.
How the fuck did the white man survive for 200000 years with no central heating?
In 1900 when the white man marched for the south pole, he wore six layers of shetland wool and a canvas layer on top to stop the wind. Because all races are equal.
I love fucking mountaineering in a blizzard. Do it as much as I can. Wish we had more.
Being outside is the natural state of all mammals, including humans. Returning to a primitive diet, walking for ten miles and intermittently engaging in lifting heavyweight, all done between dawn and sundown, then resting under the stars. It is what we are made to do. Homeless people find a feeling of freedom that is sometimes counter productive. It keeps some of them living on the streets. Better to find that freedom while still having a home to retreat to without letting home become a prison locking yourself up in it.
Getting out in the summer helps,too. Between 6am and noon,than out again at 5pm. Anything time in between,the sun is above us and not good. Referring to where I live
Get the mail
Shovel the walk
Take the dog on a 4 wheeler ride
Clean the stove pipe
Get ice cold beer off the porch
Work on the vehicles
Look for stuff in the shed
Play fetch with the dog with snowballs lol
Word, man! Im mentally like you, so of course i like you because i can relate.
This for humor in what is normally a Doom and Gloom site.
This morning I went to a local lumberstore to buy
a new toilet seat
(one of the few things I don’t have spares for).
It is the crack of dawn, I’m wearing a Hanes pocket T shirt.
Most everyone in the store( workers and shoppers) is wearing hoodie sweats or heavy jackets with hoods.
Outside it is light rain and upper 50’s.
Most buildings here don’t have any heaters.
My daughter used to work at this store so they know me well,
I purposely walk over to an employee and ask are you cold?
I won’t print the response.
FYI, Hanes supports multiple communist organizations. Try carhartt or fruit of the loom instead 😉
Fruit of the loom is new choice.
Carhartt is just to expensive for my taste.
Although I can’t find a source for your assertion,
for Commie Hanes.
It was a few years back a boycott on Hanes and Levi’s for supporting gun control and some other issues. I can’t remember exactly but once a company supports gun control they are done in my book.
Genius I know what you mean, but this is getting really hard to stay up with, many years ago they said Pepsi was anti gun so I switched to Coke, now I seen a Coke add with two corksuckers and now it seems that most companies are doing the same. I’m having a hard time keeping up. Trekker Out
I recently broke my FOOD ONLY prepping purchases and bought a couple of winter clothing items. Are there any winter clothing items that a prepper should/must have?
polypropylene longjohns of the military variety. buy ’em at military surplus stores.google “extreme cold weather clothing system” or “ECWCS” items to keep you alive in frigid temps…….fleece, polypro’s, goretex, marshmellow coat, balaclava.
To the asshole who stole my propane tank this morning, hey fucker it was empty.
To the uncle scam stooges in your “undisclosed locations” a salute to you….
I hate fucking theifs a little bit less than a pedophile. One needs their hand crushed, the other their balls crushed. Either way don’t let me catch you doing either…. I enjoy smashing things.
I have read that the average American spends 10 minutes a day outdoors.
Here’s a good DIY project if you have an empty propane tank.
How did I become Anonymous? That was my post
Go downhill skiing.
I have lots of happy memories about taking people skiing. Most generally people have a thrilling time and laugh with pure joy.
It’s a little expensive but still affordable for families.
It is way easier than snowboarding. Several young will want to go snowboarding,but a beginner will have a better time skiing. So save the snowboarding for your 3rd time.
A fearless little one skiing for the first time. This is a very empowering activity to build up young people so they then do not fear hardship.
It’s so much fun but the adults/parents don’t really get to ski much.
My wife and I took off together and had a ski trip. Once a physician friend and I went. Once my brother and a buddy went midnight skiing after driving through a blizzard. Had a blast!
Once I took a large church group that included a mentally challenged young man. He was a klutz and was going to give up, but I spent hours teaching him and eventually he rode the lift, did the bunny hill, did one green hill from start to finish successfully without falling which was a HUGE accomplishment. That was a great day.
It might have been the only time anyone ever cared and taught him anything…which is so tragic.
Don’t give up on people.
While you Yankees are sufferingthrough the polar vortex and power outages, snows plows are stuck, no mail delivered, turning down the gas furnaces due to natural gas shortages…
on one single day, it got down to 6 degrees F and we had an inch of powder snow and a half inch the next day. Now it’s 30 degree F again. Whoopdedoo.
If we have a bad solar minimum, do you really want to live in bitter cold and have crop and livestock losses???
Weird. How is that common sense?