How to Use Winter to Your Advantage

picture of winter with woman outsideWhen it gets cold I like to stay in more and hang out by the fire. Carried to the extreme, I postpone shopping, and spend more and more time inside, skipping gym workouts and finding excuses to avoid winter excursions.

But health experts say we should really do the opposite. Getting outside in the winter can actually rev up our health if we let it. Boosting levels of oxygen with outdoor time can make bad moods vanish and help kids wind down at the end of the day.

It reminds me of the rosy glow most of us had as children when we came in after playing in the snow. I grew up in a Midwestern town where winter was considered one big playground for the kids. Rounding up hats, mittens and snowsuits, most of us were outside as much as possible all winter long. Winter sparked our appetites, burned up excess energy and made us stronger. We slept like rocks. Besides, it was fun.

New Winter Perspectives

Using that same approach, try looking at winter from a different angle. Whatever winter looks like in your neighborhood pick a cold sunny day and break out with a brisk morning or lunchtime walk. On weekends try a new winter sport like skating. Make it a family outing and it may become a weekend favorite.

If that first blast of cold air makes this a real challenge, try going out midday after lunch to walk or run.  As a bonus, you may discover new energy as you return to work. According to accuweather.com, just 10 minutes of fresh air can invigorate thought processes and accelerate energy levels.

Outdoor Time Fights Indoor Germs

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends allowing kids to encounter outdoor bacteria naturally, making them less likely to develop autoimmune disorders and allergies.

The CDC says outdoor time can actually strengthen a child’s immune system, providing an escape from indoor germs and bacteria and building up a natural resistance. Indoor germs get recycled again and again with the circular nature of indoor heating and ventilation systems creating an atmosphere where family members may continue to pass germs back and forth.

Vitamin D Rescues Smiles

Along with the cold, If you seem to be feeling down and your kids seem to have forgotten how to smile, you may all need a Vitamin D boost.

According to the National Institute of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), Vitamin D, as natural sunlight, promotes calcium absorption, builds strong bones and sometimes affects a child’s mood.

Researcher Jaap Denissen says serotonin is a hormone that plays a key part in regulating mood. Lower levels of serotonin, and higher levels of melatonin can create depression-like symptoms. The less exposure you have to the sun, the lower your Vitamin D and serotonin levels. Reversing the trend for kids could be as simple as making play time outside after school or after lunch.

Finally, getting that regular dose of outdoor time could make sleeping more peaceful at your house. All of that sunshine, fresh air and outdoor exercise will help everyone sleep more restfully.

Whatever steps you take to get outdoors, watch for a boost in health that your whole family will enjoy.

 

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Image used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Artis Pupins

This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.