Here in Nashville, we don’t get a lot of snow. A slight flurry has been known to freak out many Nashvillians, and just a few inches of snowfall can shut down the city for days. While we all love a good excuse to stay home, curl up by the fire, and enjoy a relaxing day, there are a lot of benefits to taking some time on your snow day to get outside and do some good old-fashioned playing. To help get you motivated to put down the hot cocoa and step outside for a minute, here are three of the best reasons to be active in the snow this winter:
1. It’s a great way to keep off that winter weight.
Like we mentioned above, getting cozy with a hot chocolate on a cold winter day can be great for the soul, but one too many of those can take a toll on your waistline. Even the most dedicated exercisers can find it tough to stay active all winter long, and the holidays certainly don’t help anyone stick to their diets, leading many of us to put on a few extra pounds during the winter months. A fresh snowfall can be the perfect excuse to act like a kid again and get outdoors for some play time! Sledding, skiing, and ice skating are all great winter weather fitness opportunities. For those who prefer not to get behind the wheel after a heavy snowfall, going on a walk through your snow-covered neighborhood to visit a friend or pick up some groceries can be a fun way to get active as well. However you decide to get outside, the colder weather will force your body to work a little harder to regulate your core temperature, helping you burn more calories than you would exercising indoors or in warmer weather.
2. It’s great for your heart.
Speaking of a more intense workout, your heart specifically is working a little harder than it would in moderate temperatures to regulate your body temperature, making cold weather exercise a heart-healthy activity. This bump in your cardio can make you feel like you’ve gotten a good workout in even if you’ve been just moderately active in the cold, which is why people often feel a little more exhausted after getting outdoors in the cold than they might doing the same amount of activity in the spring or fall (the same logic hold true for being active in the heat of summer). This means playing in the snow this winter will make your spring workouts feel that much easier – awesome!
3. It will cheer you up.
We’ve shown many times before that physical activity, especially outdoor activity, is great for your mood, and it’s well-established that exercise is one of the best ways to get your body to pump feel-good endorphins. There may be no more important time to think about this than in the winter! Many people suffer from what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Roughly 6% of Americans suffer from severe SAD during the winter, and another 10-20% of people experience mild forms of the disorder. The causes of SAD include the decreased daylight hours and lower levels of physical activity that come with winter for many people, so getting outdoors to play in the snow can be a great way to counteract these negative feelings and boost your mood. Bonus: Sunlight can often be really strong on a clear day, with brightness magnified through reflection off of snow, helping your body gain access to some extra Vitamin D at the time of year when it’s lowest for most people.
Whether you decide to get outside this winter and go for a run or walk, or elect to have a little more fun and enjoy a snowball fight or build a snowman, just do it! The benefits for your health and wellness are clear, and you’ll thank yourself for getting a head start on that spring/summer body. Enjoy the snowy weather while it lasts, Nashville!
– Matt (Lightning 100’s Director of Community Engagement)