In the summertime, when the sun is shining and the breeze is warm and refreshing, it’s easy to get outside and enjoy nature’s many wonders. But when the short, dark days and cold bite of winter come around here in the north, it’s a little more challenging to leave the comfort of your couch and spend time in the great outdoors.
While it is tempting to spend the months of winter bundled up inside in the toasty warmth, it’s just as important for you to get outside this time of year as it is in the warmer seasons—maybe even more so. If you’re not convinced, here are a few major ways you can benefit from spending time outdoors this winter!
Stock up on vitamin D.
Our vitamin D levels take a significant hit with the onset of the cold and limited winter daylight hours. Most of us have grown up hearing about the important role this vitamin plays in teeth and bone health, but did you know that it has a plethora of other positive health effects too?
Vitamin D also helps strengthen your muscles, prevent chronic diseases, gives you more energy, and supports immune system function. Having a strong immune system in the winter, when cold and flu viruses are more likely to spread, is especially important. Even just 15 minutes of sunlight a day can make a big difference in your health and wellness.
Boost your metabolism.
The colder your environment is, the harder your body has to work to keep you warm. When you’re outside in the winter, your body is expending more energy (burning more calories) to keep you at a comfortable temperature. That’s why going for a run in the cold is more challenging than in warm weather.
Participating in outdoor winter activities, whether it’s just a walk through the woods or an entire afternoon on the ski hill, burns fat faster and increases your resting metabolism. This can be very helpful in maintaining and/or losing weight at a time of year when we’re typically consuming more calories (anybody else addicted to gingerbread cookies?!).
Improve your mood.
Remember those powerful health effects of vitamin D we talked about earlier? They’re not just for your physical health, but for your mental health too! Researchers have found a link between low vitamin D levels and depression. This makes getting outside and soaking up the sun especially important during the winter, when people are more prone to feeling blue or even experiencing full-blown seasonal affective disorder (SAD—seasonal depression).
In addition to boosting vitamin D levels, sunlight also stimulates the production of serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is one of the “feel-good” chemicals in your brain that regulate mood, while melatonin plays an important role in your sleep cycle, which can also greatly affect mood. These benefits, along with the instinctively calming effects of nature, can help stave off or alleviate winter depression.
Think more clearly.
Breathing in fresh air and interacting with nature have been proven to sharpen focus, increase your attention span, and improve overall cognitive functioning. Spending too much time inside, where there are higher levels of carbon dioxide, can actually make it more difficult to think clearly. Going for a quick winter walk can be very beneficial in clearing your head and inspiring productive and creative thinking.
Spend more time with loved ones.
Holing up inside for the winter makes it easy to get couch-locked and stuck in your own world as the months pass by. Getting outside gives you a chance to interact with family, friends, and neighbors—especially in 2020, the year of the coronavirus. Being social and nurturing strong relationships is another good way to fight off that depression cloud that often descends with the winter season.
There are plenty of outdoor winter activities you can do with loved ones, even during the pandemic, such as hiking, fishing, sledding, or just enjoying a cup of hot cocoa to the view of a beautiful snowfall.
As you’re working on getting your fill of sunshine and fresh air in the winter, now is also a good time to get a jump-start on planning your warm-weather outdoor activities too. Start by booking the outdoor adventure of a lifetime at Lawrence Bay Lodge! With guided fishing trips out on the beautiful Reindeer Lake, moose hunting opportunities, and plenty of nature to explore across our spacious grounds, you won’t want to spend a minute more inside than you have to.
Give us a call at 701-262-4560 to book a prime spot for 2021!