12 Feb The Benefits of Exercising Outside in Winter
During the current dark (in more ways that one!) winter days it is not surprising that we all want to snuggle down at home. We all know that physical activity of any description is beneficial to our hearts, lungs, bones, muscles and joints.
However, physical activity outside in nature has some other profound benefits to our overall health and wellbeing.
You are much more likely to sleep better
I am sure you may have heard the term Circadian Rhythm (which is derived from Latin Cira ‘around’” and Diem ‘day’). All our bodily functions are influenced in some way by this inbuilt body clock but is requires exposure to periods of daylight and darkness to work effectively. If we expose our bodies to daylight by getting outside in the morning it will help you to sleep better by setting your Circadian rhythm and making sure it works effectively.
It can improve your mental wellbeing
Exercise helps the body practice moving in and out of a stressed state. When we exercise our body produces stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline – these are the same hormones we produce when we are stressed by other factors such as watching the news, home schooling or receiving a demanding email from our boss! Regular exercise teaches our stress system how to recover more efficiently and makes us more resilient to the stresses of daily life. Research in Australia demonstrated that people who exercise outdoors have higher levels of serotonin (our happy hormone) and it helped reduce tiredness and improved mood.
It can boost your immune system
Exercise increases the activity of our natural killer cells (a type of white blood cell) and antibodies which help defend the body against bacterial and viral infections as well as cancer cells. A study in Japan found that spending time amongst trees enhanced these effects.
Being outside allows us to leave behind the ‘chatter of daily life’ and look beyond ourselves.
So, the case for wrapping up warm, putting our boots on and braving the cold and wet is compelling!
Blog compiled by Jill Drew, Senior Physiotherapist at Halo