Written by Meg Metzger

Winter - you either love it or you hate it. If you are a Winter lover, then you probably don’t need much convincing to get outside, so this one is more for the haters.

Let’s face it, being cold is uncomfortable and it’s completely understandable why one would want to remain snuggled up on the couch until Spring comes around. After all, winter is a time many animals spend in hibernation. While it is a perfect season to catch up on rest, too much sleep and not enough natural light can lead to the common seasonal affective disorder or SAD.

SAD affects millions of Americans each year and those numbers have continued to rise throughout the pandemic. Less sunlight combined with less movement lead to a drop in serotonin and melatonin levels, causing symptoms such as depression, low energy, oversleeping, weight gain, and difficulty focusing. Unfortunately, this makes us more vulnerable to illnesses such as the common cold, the flu, and Covid-19.

Simply getting outside, moving your body, and exposing yourself to natural sunlight and fresh air can help lessen the impact of SAD, boost your immune system, and enhance your sense of well-being. Instead of brushing it off as a case of the Winter Blues that you have to tough-out on your own, take action now to support your body and mind to help keep your mood and motivation balanced all season long.

Here are some tips on how to get outside this Winter and enjoy the healthy, happy season you deserve.

Dress The Part

Someone once said, “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.” Now, take this with a grain of salt. We obviously don’t expect you to trek outside in a winter storm, but on a nice, non-blizzard day it’s best to properly bundle up so you can truly enjoy the time outside. Invest in an appropriate activewear, like a coat for all elements and comfortable accessories like a hat, gloves, and a scarf.

The key is layering up, knowing you can remove items of clothing if need be. Most importantly, get yourself a comfortable pair of boots, since the last thing you want are soggy socks and frostbitten toes. If you are dressed properly, you will likely forget about the cold and will learn to appreciate the cool, fresh air on your face.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

There are so many fun outdoor activities that can only be done in the snow- snow tubing, skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snow shoeing, and ice skating to name a few. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new this Winter! Since we burn extra calories in the cold, these are great ways to break a sweat and prevent packing on extra pounds. Finding new adventures, particularly when the temps are less than comfortable is key to keeping active.

Play Like a Kid Again

Take a moment to think back to Winter during your childhood. The excitement of holiday gifts, staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve, and the thrill of a surprise snow day. Tap into that favorite Winter memory, call up your friends and family, and go play outside!

Build a snowman, construct a snow fort, make snow angels, or organize a snowball fight. In today’s often serious world, it’s important to have fun and play. Doing so will help fill you with that carefree joy you experienced as a child. Oh, and when you have had enough of the cold, don’t forget to reward yourself with a nice smooth cup of hot chocolate.

By getting outside this Winter with some level of frequency you can increase your happiness, boost your immune system, and even lose weight! What’s holding you back? Make sure to create a habit earlier in the season. As the days get shorter and darker, it becomes increasingly harder for us to find motivation and we all know how tempting our couch can be. So, grab your coat, call a friend, and get out there!

Your body, mind and soul will thank you.