Why exercising outdoors in winter can elevate your health and wellbeing

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This is a small sampling of the many useful tips you can find in Starts at 60’s FREE Great Outdoors eGuide. Download your copy here.

As the cooler weather sets in, it can become all too easy to skip exercise and confine ourselves to the comfort of the warm indoors. There is also the commonly held belief that shutting ourselves away in winter will reduce the risk of catching any colds and winter bugs.

However, it’s crucial to maintain an active exercise routine throughout the winter season, as it offers a multitude of advantages for your health and wellbeing. Here are some ways the gentle embrace of the winter sun can do wonders for your health and wellbeing.

Boost your immune system

Regular exercise helps to boost a natural anti-inflammatory response in our bodies and helps to prevent us from catching common viruses and infections. It also helps to manage and prevent diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes. So when the weather turns cold it is vital to keep up or increase our exercise levels to help support our immune system function. Exercising for 60 minutes on most days will support your metabolic and immune systems and also support healthy weight levels and positive mental health.

Maintain your strength and fitness

Exercise is a key component of our overall health, helping to keep our cardiovascular and skeletal systems strong. Being active outdoors in winter simply requires some extra planning and some warm layers of clothing. Having a suitable coat, gloves and hat will keep you warm in the coolest of temperatures and still allow you to enjoy the myriad of benefits of outdoor exercise. Staying indoors in a warm environment is tempting, but it can also lead to feelings of lethargy and fatigue, altering your motivation to move and be active.

Vitamin D from the winter sun

Maintaining our vitamin D levels are essential for bone health, immune function and mental health with deficiency linked to bone loss, depression, diabetes and heart disease. Whilst we need to ensure that we are getting plenty of vitamin D in our diets from fatty fish, dairy and eggs it is crucial to maintain our exposure to natural sunlight. Winter sun has many health benefits including improved mood, better sleep and lower blood pressure.

Help regulate your sleep patterns

Sleep patterns are often disrupted in winter due to many factors such as less exercise, artificial temperature environments, reduced daylight hours and higher consumption of comfort foods. A combination of indoor and outdoor exercise will help moderate these factors and maintain healthy sleep patterns. In winter it’s common to enjoy more time snuggled on the couch watching tv, enjoying the occasional nap. However this can easily lead to disrupted sleep patterns when you struggle to fall asleep at bedtime, so the resulting fatigue leads to another nap the next day and further disruptions to your regular habits. To avoid the pitfalls of this behaviour make sure you keep up your regular exercise, and you may want to consider increasing the amount in winter to combat these issues.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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