What a brilliant autumn we are having thus far!
It’s not hard to feel happy and motivated when the sun is shining and the skies are blue. But what happens when those nights draw in even further? If you are anything like me, you start to swap into your nightclothes as soon as you get in, and huddle down in front of the tv!
But lets not fall into that trap, as getting outside in the winter is essential for the mind and the body.
If you still need a push, I’ve listed a few great reasons why you should get outside in winter…
- IMPROVED SLEEP Exposure to daylight, even in small amounts, helps to keep your circadian rhythm (sleep / wake) cycle in check. Lack of sunlight affects our physical and emotional wellbeing and leads to fatigue. So get some rays to aid getting some Zzzz’s!
- HAPPINESS and beating the winter bluesNatural daylight helps stimulate your body to release the hormone Serotonin one of the bodies natural ‘happy hormones’. Serotonin is linked to all aspects of physical and emotional health, from muscle action to brain fog, appetite to anxiety, serotonin plays a part.
- STRONG BONES We need vitamin D to keep our bones healthy and strong. It is true, we can get (a little) vitamin D from our food (fish, eggs etc), but by far our biggest source is the sun. After a summer like we have had, our stores of vitamin D should be pretty healthy, but it depends how depleted they were beforehand, as well as how often you were out in it. It is said that 10-15 minutes sun exposure a day is enough to ‘top up’ our stores of Vitamin D. Being closest to the sky, our head a shoulders have the best chance of ‘getting some’ but uncovered hands are also an easy ‘in’ for this multi functioning essential vitamin. Vitamin D helps carry calcium into bones, which is how it helps to keep our bones strong and healthy.
- IMMUNITYRegular exercise has been shown to boost immunity by increasing circulation (including immune fighting white blood cells) around the body. The effect doesn’t last forever though, so you need to exercise regularly. In addition to circulation, breathing in volumes of fresh air helps to flush out the lungs, improving our chances of staving off any bugs and bacteria before they have time to wreak their havoc!
- MINDFULNESSBeing mindful means being present. So much of our time is spent being ‘busy’, hurried, exhausted. If you are able to take a small (or large) amount of time out, in nature and be present, that is being mindful. It can be that simple, but ever so useful. For some, this is impossible and in this case, apps (www.headspace) or mindfulness classes are available, ask your Nimble Osteopath for their local recommendations.
If you do plan on getting out and about, here’s a few things to consider before you head out the door…
Layer up, remember hands, toes and ears! Wearing lots of thin layers helps to trap air and keep us insulated. The added benefit of thin layers is that you can take them off when / if you get too warm.
Try and stay dry
Even with the best will in the world, it is not worth training on a day when the weather is beating it down and howling with wind. Switch your outdoor workout for an indoor one instead of letting things slip. Maybe even consider a stretch session. We live in a world now where we can access ideas and classes online and for FREE any time of the day.
With the evenings drawing in earlier, its worth considering re – jigging your workout times to keep your workout safe and enjoyable. Maybe working out in the morning is an option instead, or at lunchtime (catch a few more of those sun rays!). If the evening is the only time you have, consider joining a class over the winter to keep you safe in the dark. Definitely make sure you have your head torch. If you need advice about classes and trainers, ask you Nimble Osteopath.
In colder months, it’s easier to turn to comfort food. Its warm, satisfying and makes us feel good! Use it as a rare treat!
Soups and stews are excellent, heathy winter warmers. Plus, if you don’t mind repeating your meals, they can save you time if you make a big enough pot of it, all you need to do is keep warming it up each night! Where you loose nutrients every time you reheat, you increase the digestibility of the food. Win and loose. Pad stews out with lentils, beans and pulses to keep them going and increase the protein content. If you are going to be exercising later in the evening, consider eating a larger lunch so that you have fuel in your body ready, as well as that, you’ll be less likely to gorge after your workout.