When the winter months hit, we tend to shy away from being active outdoors. It just doesn't seem as enticing to throw on your runners and get moving in the cold. However, a study done by Harvard Health suggests that in cooler 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. Along with the physiological benefits of cold weather exercise, getting outdoors is just plain good for the soul! We know that exercise provides many mental and physical benefits, but what if a simple change in location can increase those benefits exponentially?! Here are some great ideas to get you outside this winter to reap the benefits of outdoor exercise.
Benefits of Outdoor Exercise:
1. Improved Mood and Reduced Depression
Exercising outdoors gives you a mood boost which is much higher than working out inside. Not only are you getting an increase in dopamine circulation (which helps you anticipate pleasure, feel motivated, and maintain hope), but the exposure to vitamin-D and sunlight enhances your mood as well.
2. Low Cost
People often site cost as one of the biggest limiting factors to regular exercise. Think of nature as your playground. There are many free walking and hiking trails that you can explore… you can even pick up a winter sport such as snow shoeing or cross country skiing to improve your endurance and experience the adrenalin boost of trying something new.
3. Connecting with the Great Outdoors
One of the greatest benefits of outdoor exercise is the opportunity to connect with the mother nature and the people and places in your community. Feeling more connected to nature has been shown to reduce stress and helps us engage more with others. Next time you’re out for a walk, pop into your local coffee shop and connect with your community.
Ideas to Get Outside this Winter:
1. Plan a Walking, Running or Snow Shoeing Trip
There are countless walking and hiking routes in many areas that you can easily access. If you are unsure of where to find them, a quick google search will point you in the right direction. If you do not live close to a good hiking trail, plan a day trip on the weekend with friends to get yourself moving outside!
2. Pick a New Activity
Is there a winter activity that you've always wanted to try? Stimulate your brain and creativity this winter by trying a new activity that you've never done before! You'll not only get a rush from a new adventure but you'll also experience and enjoy the winter months in a new and exciting way.
3. Outdoor Workout
Working out at home can save you time and money. Have you ever considered working out outside even when it's cold and snowy?! Using minimal equipment and ensuring you're doing exercises that won't have you slipping around, switch it up by doing a circuit outside! Here's an example of an outdoor winter circuit you can try at home in your backyard. All you need are some dumbbells!
Warmup: (2 sets)
-Jog in place (30 sec)
-Jumping jacks (30 sec)
-Body weight Squats (30 sec)
Circuit: (3 sets)
-Reverse Lunges (15x each leg)
-Dumbbell Shoulder Press (15x)
-Low Squat Hold Pulses (20x)
-Bent Over Dumbbell Rows (15x)