Last weekend, Ryan and I decided to #OptOutside for Black Friday. Rather than spending the holidays shopping for things we don’t need, we’re spending the day outside and enjoying the gift that keeps on giving: nature. We’re trying to focus on experiences rather than things, and what better way to do that then with some quality time exercising outside.
Opting outside does not have to be reserved to Black Friday, nor should it end with the close of Thanksgiving weekend. No matter the time of the year, you can opt outside, and I believe the notion of #OptOutside is particularly valuable in winter, when it’s tempting to say inside rather than brave the cold and the elements. Yet opting outside has numerous benefits, especially in winter!
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Why You Should Opt Outside This Winter
- Connection: Ryan and I have some of our best conversations while hiking, and it truly helps us grow as a couple. When you spend time outside with family and friends, you have the opportunity to unplug from your iPhones and bond over activity and adventure.
- Mental Health: Do you get the seasonal blues? I know that I tend to get a bit down when the days are short and I feel stuck inside, while fresh air and exercise helps beat those winter blues. No matter the time of year, exercising outside, even with just a short walk, has been scientifically demonstrated to positively boost your mood while overcoming cabin fever. Exercising outside in winter ensures that you receive enough vitamin D, which is a natural mood-booster.
- Metabolism Boost: Your body works harder to stay warm while you exercise in the cold, so you burn more calories during cold weather workouts. This extra calorie burn will boost your metabolism, which means that you will burn more calories at rest as well. So don’t feel bad about enjoying those Christmas cookies! (Not that you should feel bad at all, because Christmas cookies are a wonderful seasonal treat.)
- Avoid Winter Colds: Stay healthy this winter by spending more time outside. Contrary to popular myth, cold weather does not cause winter colds – staying inside and breathing the same poorly circulated air does. Additionally, exercise is known to boost your immune system.
- Natural Beauty: Few things produce positivity, pleasure, and delight as much as towering trees, majestic mountains, and roaring rivers. I easily get upset by the tragedies in our country and our world, and the beauty and goodness of nature offers a cure for such world weariness. No matter where you live, there is natural beauty to be found. So stop trying to fit the world within an Instagram frame and instead enjoy the world around you.
How can you #OptOutside this winter?
- Hiking: With the proper equipment (i.e. trekking poles, cramp-ons, and plenty of layers), you can enjoy your favorite hiking trails during the winter time. Be sure to always practice caution when there’s ice and snow on the ground and be cognisant of trail condition.
- Running. I love winter running (unless there’s ice)! Much like hiking, the proper equipment can make or break your winter running. YakTraks and warm running clothes will help you stay safe, warm, and dry on your winter run, so you can enjoy the freshly fallen snow and the chilly air.
- Cross-Country Skiing: Cross-country skiing is a great cross-training exercise for runners, especially if your favorite trails are too snowy to run on during winter. Since you do this winter sport on flat land, you don’t need to live near mountains to enjoy the outdoors while building your endurance.
- Skiing/Snowboarding: Anyone who’s spent the day alpine skiing or snowboarding will tell you that both of these winter sports provide a significant cardio and strength workout. You’ll be sore the next day, but most of all you’ll have fun as you speed down the mountains in beautiful powdery snow.
- Ice Skating: Many towns set up outdoor ice rinks in winter. Grab some friends, strap on some skates, and enjoy exercise so fun that you’ll barely realize you’re building your endurance and strengthening your core and legs.
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What winter sports are your favorites?
What other benefits of opting outside would you add to the list?
What’s your favorite piece of cold weather running/hiking/etc gear?