Getting outdoors is healthy for you in the spring, summer and fall, so why lose all those benefits just because it’s wintertime? Spending time outside with your family can help you fight off colds, seasonal depression and expanding holiday waistlines. Let’s explore these benefits so you can bundle up and get outside.
Despite what your grandmother may have said, you won’t catch a cold just from being outdoors. In fact, a little fresh air can actually help you
stave off colds and flu, even when the weather is chilly. Regular exercise outdoors is great for your immune system. Plus, when you get outside, you get away from the shared germs and bacteria that can hang around when we stay cooped up.
For some people, the winter brings more than colds. Short days and cold weather can bring about seasonal depression, which can leave you sapped of energy and feeling sluggish. Take some time to take a walk or get out to build a snowman with the kids. The extra exercise will give you more energy throughout your day and make it easier to fall asleep at night so you can wake up feeling rested and ready for the day.
There’s one more thing to note about exercise in the cold. As your body works to warm itself, it
burns calories, meaning your morning run or evening walk can be that much more effective in the winter. If you keep up your normal routine, you can help combat the side effects of holiday eating without missing out on your favorite treats.
Even with all the benefits, there are some safety situations to think about. For starters, while we usually think of sunscreen as a summertime
thing, the bright winter sun and reflections off of snowy terrain can burn exposed skin just like in the summer. Also, make sure to dress appropriately – you don’t want to get too cold or overheat while you’re outside. Consider the type of activities you’ll be doing when you decide how to layer and accessorize. And take some time to warm up when you get back inside. It can help your immune system gear up to take on whatever’s hanging around the house or the office.
For more tips on making the cold weather more enjoyable, talk with your Lahey Health physician.