The Surprising Health Benefits of Getting Outdoors in the Winter
After a long year of quarantining, you’ve probably noticed that you feel better when you’re spending time outdoors than when you’re cooped up inside.
The rush of endorphins, the smell of the trees around you, and even the feeling of a cool breeze on your neck all ignite your senses, and restore your body and mind.
It’s not just in your head, either. It turns out there are endless health benefits from spending time with Mother Nature:
- Spending time outdoors is proven to reduce stress.
- Sunlight can provide valuable nutrients, like vitamin D.
- Enjoying the sights around you can increase endorphins in your brain, helping you feel happy and energized.
The natural world plays a large role in your physical and mental health, and can help you tackle stress and disease naturally. Even a short walk around the block can immediately make you feel more at ease during a tough day at work.
So get ready to bundle up and get yourself outside this winter to discover the many healing powers of nature. Your body will thank you.
The Benefits of Being in the Sun
Ever notice yourself feeling happier in the summer months than you are in the dead of winter? That could be because your body’s experiencing a lack of vitamin D from the sun.
Humans are just like plants in that way: we require a moderate dosage of sunshine to stay healthy. Patients in Intensive Care Units even fair better when they have a room with a window.
Vitamin D production is key to a healthy lifestyle. You can get it from your food (oily fish, red meat, eggs) as well as from direct sunlight on your skin.
Lack of sunlight can be rough on your body. It can also make teens adults feel depressed and anxious, often referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). For young children, a healthy dose of sun can ward off diseases.
Not only does sunlight provide an immediate shot of Vitamin D-needed for keeping bones, teeth, and muscles healthy-but you’ll also be protecting yourself from a variety of diseases.
Research suggests that sun exposure may even combat viral infections like the flu and bronchitis, as well as type 1 diabetes in children. Evidence also suggests sunlight can decrease your risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) as an adult.
You might be getting plenty of light from your TV or phone screen every day. But artificial light doesn’t carry the health benefits of natural sunlight.
In some cases, excess screen time can even have negative effects on your health and make you tired and irritable. You can boost your health in an instant just by leaving the phone behind and stepping outside on a sunny day.
As long as you practice sunlight exposure in moderation, getting a little sun can make you feel amazing inside and out.
Approximately 30 minutes in the sun can provide you with as much vitamin D as eating a nutrient-packed fatty fish. The lighter your skin tone, the less sunlight you need to feel the health benefits. And sunscreen is always a good idea when getting outdoors to prevent sunburns and your risk of skin cancer.
Fuel Your Body with Endorphins
How can you become less stressed in 2021? Step outside and find out.
Exploring the outdoors is so good for your body and mind, a new health trend has emerged recently around it: wilderness therapy.
Also known as “forest therapy,” this includes meditation and relaxation in nature alone or with others. Focusing on small details like the sound of a leaf falling or the feeling of a splash from the river can boost your mood and help you feel less anxious.
Being outside actually changes the chemistry of your body. When you exercise outdoors (hiking, biking, or kayaking, for example) your body creates a chemical called endorphins.
Endorphins are a neurotransmitter that boosts your mood. Commonly called a “runner’s high,” many athletes have experienced the feeling of endorphins after a hard sprint or long run.
When you fill your body with mood-boosting endorphins, you lower your risk of depression and the daily stresses of your life. You don’t have to break a sweat either as you can reap the benefits just by being outside.
Align Your Mental Health with Nature
After a long year of social distancing, you’re likely feeling disconnected from your friends, family, or community.
Studies have shown that time in nature helps us feel connected to our communities and the world around us in positive ways.
For example, a study at the University of Chicago revealed that public housing units with greenery and trees built a feeling of unity amongst neighbors in the area. Nature can bring people together by encouraging outdoor play and exploration amongst children and their families.
Data also points to the natural environment lowering levels of stress in the body through biomarkers like cortisol, the stress hormone.
Your brain loves the natural world. Exploring a new hiking trail for 90 minutes can help you clear your prefrontal cortex — the part of your brain that is highly active when you’re ruminating on negative thoughts and emotions.
Even keeping green plants or colorful flowers in your home can boost your mood, and has been shown to increase the wellbeing of sick people in hospital settings.
When you spend time outdoors and in the raw wilderness, you allow your body to recharge and stock up on key nutrients that leave you feeling relaxed and ready to take on your next overlanding adventure.
Ready to Feel Great this Winter?
At Nomadica, we love spending time outside all year long. And when the snow starts to fall and the temperatures drop, we’re big fans of winter camping.
We’re always looking for an excuse to take the trucks out into the snow. And who doesn’t love the feeling of warming your hands by the fire on a chilly night, or strapping up the snowshoes for a hike in some fresh snow?
Whether you love winter as much as we do or you’re more of a summer adventurer, spending time outside this winter is good for you in more ways than one.
Getting out in nature and staying comfortable this winter is all about preparation. Proper gear is a must-have after a long day skiing, snow shoeing, or just basking in the snow with a favorite drink in your hand.