Let’s talk about . . . getting outside every day. (Even in the winter.)
I know it’s getting colder. And it’s dark. And it’s so warm and cozy inside. . . where we can hibernate with our books and our knitting and our favorite tv shows.
But I’m going to encourage you to get . . . out there. In the winter. In the daytime. No matter the weather. Every damn day!
Well. Because it turns out that hibernating the winter away . . . isn’t good for us!
Yes. The urge to hibernate is strong. But too little exposure to daylight (actual daylight, as in . . . outside) can really impact our emotional and physical well being. When we’re stuck inside all day, every day, we tend to feel more pessimistic. And more tired. Too little exposure to daylight throws our circadian rhythms off. (Circadian rhythms dictate our sleep/wake cycles, and impact all sorts of body functions including mood and digestion.)
Even small amounts of daylight every day (120 minutes/week, which works out to about 18 minutes/day) can help keep our circadian rhythms in check. Plus . . . getting outside every day will:
- Lift your mood. (Daylight raises your serotonin levels.)
- Give you a daily dose of vitamin D. (Which is necessary for bone health.)
- Practice mindfulness. (Which boosts your dopamine levels.)
- Charge up your immune system. (Being out in fresh air is good for your lungs and airways.)
- Keep you moving! (And that’s always good.)
So. Here’s my challenge for you this month . . .
Commit to getting outside for 15-20 minutes every day. (No matter the weather.)
I know. For a lot of you, that will sound like . . . a lot. (For dog owners? Well. You already know the drill . . . ) It’s the getting-up-out-of-the-comfy-chair-by-the-warm-fire part that stops most people. I’m here to tell you, though, that once you get up on your feet . . . and once you put on the appropriate outdoor gear . . . and once you get out there . . . well. It feels really good! I am never sorry that I got up and out of my warm house for a little time outside!
Here are a few tips:
- Set a “usual time” for your getting-outside routine – and then stick with it. Maybe it’s on your lunch break. Maybe it’s earlier in the morning. Maybe it’s just before the sun sets. Just decide on a time when there is still daylight . . . and stick with it!
- Plan to get out even in “crappy” weather. (Another of my mom’s expressions from my childhood was, “You won’t melt.” She was right about that one, too. You won’t.) I mean, even Tom and I have our limits. We won’t go out walking when it’s below zero, for example. We won’t go walking in a thunderstorm. We won’t head out in the middle of a blizzard. But other than that? We get out. Even in the rain. Even when it’s snowing. Even when there is ice on the road. And you know what? It feels really good to get out in the cold for . . . a little while. (It makes coming home to your warm house feel even better!)
- Make sure you have the right clothing and gear. I know most of you reading this have a solid inventory of woolly hats and scarves and cowls and socks and mittens. But maybe not so much when it comes to . . . rain pants? How about a sturdy pair of waterproof boots or shoes? Long underwear or fleece-lined pants? Having the right clothing available makes all the difference if you’re going to take advantage of getting out for some fresh air and daylight!
In fact, here are links to some things I’ve added to my winter-weather-gear over the years. Keep your eyes open during the upcoming “black friday” nonsense . . . because some of these items will likely get marked way, way down. (They also sell out, so if you’re looking for some of these things, don’t wait until January. Just sayin.) These are specific links to clothing/gear that I own and wear often. I’m sure you can find many suitable alternatives locally or on the internet. (I’ve seen YakTrax at Costco, for example.)
- Rain pants. These are not made for fashion, friends. They are, though, made to just pull on over whatever other pants you might be wearing. They’re waterproof – and windproof. They will last forever, too.
- Fleece-lined pants. I got these pants last year for winter walks. But you know what? They’re actually kind of . . . (dare I say) fashion forward. I wear them all the time — not just for cold-weather walks. They have great pockets and they’re really comfortable. And . . . warm. (And they go on super sale once in a while. My bet is there will be a huge ‘black friday’ deal on these pants.)
- YakTrax. These things work! Yes, they’re kind of a pain to stretch on over your shoes — but they keep you stable out there on icy streets and sidewalks. I am much more confident taking walks outside in the winter when I have these strapped to my shoes.
So. . . .
Make a plan for yourself now . . . to get outside every day.
Set a time. Get your gear together. Make the commitment.
See what happens!
2023 Monthly Fitness Challenges
Looking for Monthly Fitness Challenges from 2021-2022? I’ve moved them! Now you can find them in the Field Notes section of the blog (just click on Field Notes in the top menu) and look for Monthly Fitness Challenges 2021-2022.