Thaw Out and Get Active
Maybe you don’t live where the temperatures drop below freezing, but winter weather and shorter daylight hours seem to put a damper on our desire to go outside and exercise our bodies. Has your fitness routine been in hibernation? Even if you’ve been active indoors on your treadmill or stationary bike, now that spring has arrived, wouldn’t you enjoy a change of scenery?
“Taking it outside” has several health and motivational benefits to give a boost to your activity and your outlook.
- Shed some light on yourself: getting in the full-spectrum daylight, in limited doses, will let your body produce Vitamin D. This essential nutrient contributes to bone and joint health and helps you to better absorb calcium. Vitamin D is also a factor in protecting against cardiovascular disease in the long term.
- Eye opening: Natural sunlight is a natural antidepressant. If you have spent too much of the past few months cabin bound, a few minutes taking in the light can give you a lift.
- A feast for the senses: As you get out to walk, run or ride, listen to the breeze rustle the leaves and the birds singing. Smell the new blossoms. Look at the blue sky and white clouds. Feel the warmth on your face. Taste the squirt of lemon in your water bottle as you keep yourself hydrated.
- Don’t let anything dampen your enthusiasm: A late spring shower doesn’t have to keep you indoors. Put on a light rain jacket and go out anyway! I promise you won’t melt. Notice the subtle aroma from the first raindrops interacting with the earth, a phenomenon known as “petrichor.”
- Freed from solitary confinement: Moving your workout outdoors gives you a chance to meet up with others who are emerging from their cocoons. Joining a group activity, like yoga or tai chi in the park, can be outstanding motivation to stick with your goals.
Now, I want to mention a few safety tips for breaking out of a winter slump:
- If you are just starting to exercise after a long layoff, it’s always recommended to check with your primary care physician. Your doctor can evaluate your current fitness level and suggest ways to ramp it up while avoiding injury or health issues.
- Check that your shoes provide good support and proper cushioning. Get new ones if last season really should have been their last season.
- Some sun is good, but sunscreen and sunglasses are needed so you don’t get too much. Springtime brings plenty of UV rays even when it’s not that hot.
- If you’ve been accustomed to having your tunes or an audiobook while you work out, be sure you can still safely hear your surroundings when you carry them outdoors.
Once you have those things covered, step outside and enjoy the beautiful days ahead. Take your body, mind and emotions on a field trip to start feeling better the rest of the year.