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Why Go Outside in the Winter?

I have heard people say they dislike winter and all the snow and cold, but I have noticed that it doesn't make winter shorter or reduce the amount of snow and cold we get. What I do know is that if you can find a way to enjoy some sort of activity during winter (particularly an outdoor activity), you end up dreading it less, and it seems to pass quicker.

Some friends and I recently went out cross country skiing together and noted the beauty of the woods - the snow-laden trees, the sunlight shining through, the freshness of the air. While not everyone has the ability to get out skiing, whether due to a lack of equipment or a lack of trails nearby, everyone can find a way to spend time outside on a winter day.

Sunlight shining through the forest on a cross country ski trail.
Winter Trails

Soaking up sunshine and breathing fresh air during the winter months can really boost your mood and your immunity. Regular exercise outdoors can increase your stamina and benefit your energy levels. But what about the cold?

One of the best ways to spend time outdoors (especially in our area - the Upper Peninsula of Michigan) is to dress in layers - however many it takes to keep you comfortable. If you get too warm, you can always remove a layer; if you are too cold, you can add a layer. Some types of clothing perform better for outdoor fun than others. Wool is a great base layer; water repellent fabrics are a great outer layer. Local sporting goods stores can steer you in the right direction for what is best in your area and your intended activity, but that doesn't mean you have to spend big bucks on clothing. Our family enjoys finding deals at the local Goodwill or St. Vinnie's stores.

The important thing is finding a way to enjoy something that might otherwise keep you from being active and healthy year-round. There might be local clubs that get together in winter and plan adventures - they might even provide the gear needed to try something new. Whatever it is you decide to try, make sure you learn enough to do it safely. Outdoor activities can go from fun to scary quickly if you haven't planned properly. And, make sure you are taking care of the natural world while you explore it. Here is a link to the 7 Leave No Trace Principles for minimizing your impact on nature.

We are lucky to have a group of friends who enjoy a full moon snowshoe and campfire - maybe those types of adventurous souls live in your neighborhood and you never realized it because you thought winter was a time to hibernate.

I'm hoping this post will be just the nudge that gets you out there.


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