The benefits of exercising outdoors during winter

Research conducted in Finland found that training outdoors has a positive impact on our sleep quality, physiological health and mental wellbeing – with the latter observing the greatest effects.

In the summer, our bodies rely on the sunshine for a hearty dose of Vitamin D which is important in keeping our muscles, bones and teeth healthy. In the winter, meanwhile, the sun’s rays don’t provide enough UVB radiation for our skin to create vitamin D from – but getting out into the fresh air and natural light is still advantageous to our mental health. “We need exposure to sunlight to help regulate our circadian rhythms and keep ourselves mentally healthy,” explains fitness trainer Julia Buckley.

Indeed, venturing outdoors is particularly important at a time of year when we spend more time huddled down in dark rooms. A lack of exposure to natural sunlight causes confusion to reign in our bodies and can knock our internal clock off-kilter – which, in turn, can disturb eating and sleep patterns, negatively impact mood and heighten feelings of tiredness.

The benefits aren’t limited to our mental health. When you also consider that engaging in regular exercise during winter is proven to improve immunity when it comes to fending off seasonal ills – with an added boost if you do so outside and amongst trees – then the case for braving the chill looks undeniable.

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