During the winter months when days are shorter and colder, getting out and about can seem less appealing.
And of course our increasing sedentary lifestyles resulting from office based jobs, entertainment via technology, and the allure of the television only serves to restrict our time outdoors even more.
However spending time in the fresh air can have huge benefits for our health and, as such, can be an easy, cheap and enjoyable way to boost and maintain good well being.
It has long been recognised that fresh air can be an amazing healer.
In centuries gone by those suffering from respiratory issues were sent to the mountains to take advantage of the clean air, and of course part of the appeal of the seaside spa towns was the benefits of taking some ‘sea air’. Spending time outdoors helps our bodies detox and strengthens the immune system whilst exposure to natural daylight assists with our absorption of Vitamin D, so important to many aspects of good health and self-regulation in the body.
And the benefits of spending time outdoors are not restricted to the air we breathe and the sunlight.
Being outside will generally involve some level of activity – walking or participating in a sport, for instance – activity that helps to build muscle strength, maintain joint flexibility, increase fitness levels, maintain a healthy weight, and aid better lymphatic drainage.
So how to take advantage of this freely available natural healthcare?
One thing that puts many people off is the misconception that to gain any benefit from being outdoors you need to be engaging in strenuous or time consuming activities but this simply isn’t true. As with anything connected to your health, any small change you make will be helpful however insignificant it may seem. You really don’t need to go on a 10 mile hike (unless you want to, of course). 20 -30 minutes of exposure to natural daylight a day is enough, for example, to boost your Vitamin D levels, and a 10-15 minute span of daily activity has been proven to have as many health benefits as a couple of hour long fitness classes a week.
So why not wrap up warm and enjoy the power of the great outdoors? Your body will love you for it!
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Get away from your desk and take a short walk during your lunch break.
- Challenge the children to a kick about on the back lawn (or even have one without the children!)
- Look for fun activities to do in your nearest woodland or national park – many have loads of organised events.
- Struggling to get motivated? Join a walking or cycling club, for example. A great way to find encouragement and make friends at the same time.
- Many beaches are open to dog walkers at this time of year – take a walk on a Sunday morning followed by a warm drink in a cosy café. Don’t have a dog? Borrow one or just go anyway!
- As Christmas approaches get into the festive spirit by visiting one of the many outdoor ice skating rinks.