Health Benefits of Winter Weather
Here are a few tips to help you stay healthy this winter. Although it may be tempting, it’s important to fight the desire to curl up on the couch and hide away all winter. If you feel tired, cold, or worn down, try getting outdoors for some type of physical activity. Winter weather offers some crucial benefits for our mental, emotional and physical well-being.
Mental and Emotional Health
Researchers have found that forests, parks, and fresh air kick our brains into high gear, improving creativity, ability to focus, concentration, and happiness.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects some people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year. These people exhibit depressive symptoms typically in the winter months when there is less sunlight. Symptoms include increased irritability, lethargy, oversleeping, or a change in appetite, among others. 1
For those who experience mild symptoms of SAD, spending time outside is a simple and inexpensive way to cope, as natural light and regular exercise may help reduce negative emotions.
Research has shown that exercising outside year-round may yield greater benefits. Those who walk outdoors, even in the winter months, are less likely to pack on winter pounds compared with those who exercise in the confines of a gym or at home. Just 20 minutes in the fresh air can be the equivalent of one energizing cup of coffee and you will have burned some extra calories to boot!
On average American adults spend 90 percent of their lives inside, and the amount of time we spend indoors increases even more as we grow older. When we spend our days tromping through the snow, skiing down slopes, or just taking a leisurely walk in nature, how could we not be in better health?
Get Plenty of Sleep
Make sure you get plenty of solid sleep to keep you refreshed and energized. It’s easy to overlook sleep during the winter months, especially during the holidays, plus work, and family obligations. Recharge your batteries and protect yourself from winter colds by getting enough sleep. It’s easy to get caught up in the rush and stress of the holidays. Add in work, family obligations, and deadlines and you may find yourself feeling run down and not getting enough rest making you more susceptible to illness or injury and threatening your immune system. Proper sleep is necessary as it allows your body to repair itself.
Eat for the Season
Eat healthy whole foods rich in vitamins and nutrients to prevent colds and illness. It may also be of benefit to eat seasonal foods as our bodies need the nutrients provided by foods that are grown during specific times during the year. Our ancestors ate what was available locally and in season.
Drink to Your Health
Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is one of the simplest and most effective ways to keep your body and mind balanced during the harrowing winter months. Additionally, drink healthy herbal teas such as ginger, chamomile, Echinacea, and ginseng. All of these teas have been shown to help the circulatory system and improve immunities and can protect you from catching a cold in the winter. 2
Get a Dose of Vitamin D
Exposure to natural sunlight provides 80-90% of our vitamin D; a critical nutrient that supports cell, bone growth, and immune health.
Vitamin D can help reduce inflammation and help alleviate the symptoms of diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer, depression, and heart issues.
Get outside for a dose of sunshine daily. In the northern hemisphere, the strength of the sun in the winter months might not be enough to boost our vitamin D levels in which case it may be of benefit to supplement.
In addition, supplementing with Vitamin C, zinc, and Echinacea may be beneficial to prevent colds in the winter.
We often blame winter weight gain on holiday overindulgence. But some researchers blame another, more surprising culprit: too much warmth. The Metabolic Winter Hypothesis suggests our bodies burn calories by keeping us warm. Because today we’re rarely cold, our bodies hang on to these calories. Thus, getting outside in cold weather may contribute to a healthy weight and a faster, more efficient metabolism.
Be Safe and Stay Well!
3 Metabolic WINTER Hypothesis – How it May Help Improve & Prevent Metabolic Disease