Health Benefits of Being Outside

November 16, 2020 | Emily Goodwin

With the days getting shorter and the weather turning colder, it can be difficult to find the motivation or
time to get outside. Even thinking about the numerous layers of clothing required for a short walk
outside in the frigid temperatures can be daunting. However, taking a winter walk or even just spending
time outside while sipping a cup of your favorite warm beverage can offer numerous health benefits,
both physical and mental.

Physical benefits of spending time outside include increasing the absorption of vitamin D and improving
the basal metabolic rate. It is recommended to spend 10 minutes every day in the sunshine to absorb
vitamin D in the winter months. Spending time outside additionally helps your body to regulate its
metabolism, which in turn helps the entire body system to regulate.
Being outside in the colder months is also beneficial for your mental health. Taking one daily walk
outside has been shown to increase creativity, focus, and even mood! When your eyes are exposed to at
least 20 minutes of outside light, this helps to regulate your circadian (sleep/wake) cycle, assists with
enhancing brain serotonin levels which elevates your mood, and countless other benefits.

HOW TO INCREASE TIME OUTSIDE
Here are some of my top tips for increasing time outside in the colder months:
1. Bring a comfy blanket outside and bundle up as you sip your morning coffee/tea.
2. Wear plenty of layers and take a walk outside. Look at the weather forecast before you go so
you can plan for the proper number of layers and footwear.
3. Arrange a walking coffee date at a local park with a friend.
4. Channel your inner child and play in the snow!

SAFETY TIPS
If you are unable to get outside when there is plenty of sunshine, consider the following safety tips for a
sunrise/sunset walk:
1. Walk with others when possible for safety.
2. Be extra careful of slick conditions and error on the side of caution.
3. Wear brightly colored clothing and a safety vest. Wearing a safety vest and bright clothing
increases your visibility by up to 300 feet! Without proper colored clothing, drivers can only see
you when they are only a few feet away.
4. Most importantly – remember to bring illumination (headlamp, flashlight).

When you make the effort to spend time safely outside, it can help improve your body and your mind!

Emily Goodwin, OTD, OTR/L, ERYT, is a yoga instructor and occupational therapist at Omaha Integrative Care. Her favorite ways to practice self-care are yoga, learning something new, exploring nature, aromatherapy and journaling. Emily can be reached at emilygoodwinotd@gmail.com.

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