As the weather gets frightful, the indoors become so delightful. But colder temperatures don’t have to mean you retreat from nature. These six easy ways to stay healthy will help you make the most of nature during the colder months.
If you want more ideas, download my free guide to how to spend time in nature during the holidays or download my free guide to beat seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Especially if you live in a colder environment, the winter months can become a time when you are less active. Mental health also is often affected as the days grow shorter and colder. Getting outside or bringing nature inside can help with mental health conditions, such as seasonal affective disorder, and with your physical health.
Before we dive in, it’s important to clarify that these activities are better for certain habitats than others. If you’re like me and live somewhere warm like Santa Barbara, not all of these activities will be possible. Those who live or vacation in colder environments will find these activities to be a great addition to their colder months.
1) Bring Nature Inside
Greening the indoors is one of those simple-to-grasp concepts that’s exactly what it sounds like. Greening the indoors is all about bringing the health benefits of nature to us indoors. While many of us know that time in nature has many health benefits, we don’t always get outside as often as we should.
The reality is most people spend over 90% of their time inside, a percentage which increases when the weather outside makes it difficult to spend long periods outdoors without frostbite. So are we doomed to spend winter in soul-sucking indoor environments totally divorced from the natural world? Greening the indoors says no.
The most simple and accessible version of greening the indoors asks us to find innovative ways to incorporate natural elements into our existing structures. Easy ways of greening your indoors include:
- Having indoor plants and decorating with natural colors
- Improving your indoor air quality
- Allowing more natural light into the room
- Using the soothing sounds and smells of nature (like running water, rustling leaves, or fragrant flowers).
Each of these natural interventions listed above has its own set of benefits. To learn more, check out my free guide to greening the indoors.
2) Winter Walks
Walking in nature is one of the most beneficial and easy workouts you can do–and you don’t have to stop when the weather gets cold outside! If it’s cold, consider bundling up with more layers or going for shorter walks.
You don’t have to walk outside for too long if you live in a cold environment. A 15 minute walk in nature can decrease stress by 15%. By walking outside when possible, you’re combining the stress relieving qualities of walking with the benefits of direct sunlight.
3) Ski and Snowboard
Hitting the slopes, one of the most unique and fun activities in colder environments, might have more benefits than the thrill of skiing down a black diamond. In fact, skiing and snowboarding are two great activities for your health.
Both strengthen lower body muscles, improve flexibility, and burn calories. If you’re a new skier or snowboarder, consider walking up the slopes instead of taking the chairlift to burn more calories. For more advanced skiers and snowboarders, a good rule of thumb is the steeper the slope, the more calories you’ll burn.
You can also get the added mood boost of spending time in direct sunlight while skiing or snowboarding.
4) Cross Country Ski
While many people think of traditional skiing (going down slopes and riding a chairlift back up), cross country skiing is a more rigorous option. With cross country skiing, you are moving across flat surfaces on skis. As you might imagine, this is an intense workout which burns as many calories as an intensive run.
Like all the other outdoor sports mentioned here, cross country skiing has many health benefits. It is as good for cardiovascular health and may prevent type 2 diabetes. Even when done leisurely, a 2019 study found that cross country skiing lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes in the future.
5) Ice skate
The benefits of ice skating will be very similar to skiing and snowboarding: you can get outside and burn calories while also getting the mental health benefits of time in the sun.
An added benefit from ice skating you might not expect is improved balance. Because ice skaters have to be aware of where their body is on the ice at all times, they improve their balance overtime.
Ice skating might also improve your mood and help you sleep better. A 2015 study found a regular ice skating habit improved the sleep quality of kids with hearing impairments. To get the mood boost of spending time in sunlight, consider going to an outdoor rink instead of an indoor one when possible. Even in winter, it’s best to do physical activities outside if you have the proper clothing to avoid frostbite and hypothermia. The only time when this is a good suggestion to follow is when temperatures drop severely.
6) Plan Next Year’s Garden
If going outside still doesn’t seem like an option and you’ve already greened the indoors, you could also make a plan about how to spend time in nature once the weather is warmer. One of my favorite ways to spend time in nature is gardening.
Planning for next year’s crop, however, is a time-intensive process. Winter is a great time to start planning out what you want to grow and the practices you’ll use to help your garden thrive.
Starting your planning now can ensure you’re using organic practices as well. Check out my free guide on how to start an organic garden for some inspiration.
Beat the winter blues by adding these six items to incorporate into your winter agenda! For more ideas on how to use nature to be happier and healthier this winter, subscribe to my free newsletter. Each week, I’ll send you tips on how to be happier and healthier with nature. And as a free gift for signing up, you’ll get my workbook on how to walk your way to wellness and my ebook on how to use nature to be less stressed in a week.
Still wondering how to spend time outside during the colder months? Download my free guide to how to beat SAD this winter.