Wintertime is meant to be cozy. We crave for comfort food, hot drinks and soft blankets. We love spending the day inside if our schedule allows it. But what about fresh air? Especially in North America and large cities where every home beneficiates of air conditioning systems, we tend to forget the importance of fresh air for our health and our house health.
We spend too much time inside
30% of Canadians spend less than 30 min a week outdoors. 64% of adult Canadians spend less than 2 hours outside a week. Even if most of us want to spend more time in nature, 70% are willingly agreeing to the fact that uncomfortable weather condition would keep them inside.
Not only the Canadians, but the average American also spent 87% of their life indoors, and 6% in their car. So they live only 7% of their life outside. Honestly, I don’t know what defines an average American. Nevertheless, these numbers are way too high anyway. Regarding Europe, the British are living in a milder climate. During the summer, they spend less than 6 hours a week outside, and less than 2 hours a week outdoors.
What does it mean? It means that we don’t spend enough time outside. We don’t spend enough time in nature. Living in a cold or warm country, whether during the winter or the summer we stay hidden inside.
During the summer the light comes in, and we beneficiate from the sunlight as soon as we go outside thanks to our light outfits. During the winter, sometimes we don’t feel the sunlight on our skins for weeks.
We celebrate many things during the wintertime with bright tones and sparkling shine. Why is that? Why do we go for soft natural colours during the summertime, and contrasting colours in the winter? Because winter is depressing, we want to find that unconsciously. The problem is, we don’t fight with the right weapons.
It’s not winter that is depressing; it’s the fact that in the name of winter, we stay for way too long hours inside. Going out and face the fresh air is the more invigorating feeling ever!
Fresh air is the one that makes us stay inside during the winter, and maybe the lack of light, but it should be the one that makes us go outside to feel its benefits.
Winter depression is commonly called SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). It’s a depression crisis during specific periods of time of the year. SAD increases depression symptoms and hypersomnia.
The benefit of extreme cold
When we expose our body to extreme cold, we trigger an increase in the production of norepinephrine, a hormone involved in focus and attention. Going outside during the winter is a little helper to our long hours of study, desk working and reading. It also improves our mood and soothes the pain.
Exercising outdoors in the cold weather increase our “white fat” burning. White fat is the fat located on thighs and belly. Not to mention that apparently as braving cold weather for our workout is though, we increase our endurance therefore self-esteem.
Indoor air pollution
Sunlight kills germs and acarids, but fresh air on its own is crucial for a healthy home.
But staying indoors has more dangers! Indoor air is 2 to 5 times more polluted by solvents and pesticides in normal conditions than outdoors air. If a room has been freshly painted, it’s increased to a 1000 time! It’s crucial for you to go outside at least 10 min for short breaks twice a day during your working sessions to purify your body.
Indoor pollution comes from anything like paint on the walls, synthetic floors and glue, chipboard, cleaning products, etc.
Here is an idea of what this pollution can cause: chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart diseases and osteoporosis. But this pollution also increases obesity; greenness in a neighbourhood is associated with a decrease in body mass index, but you also naturally increase your physical activity when you step outside.
Indoor pollution has an impact on mental health too has it’s known to increase psychological disorders, depression anxiety and SAD.
If you want to know more about indoor air pollution: Volatile Organic Compounds’ Impact on Indoor Air Quality
Vitamin D and oxygen boost
A reasonable exposure to sunlight increases our vitamin D production. During the summer you have to be careful and protect your skin. During the winter except when you are hiking on glaciers or skiing, most of the time your skin can’t suffer from UV exposure. It’s all beneficial for you and your mental health.
Vitamin D is involved in healthy bones; it helps increase our immune system. More vitamin D means fewer depression symptoms and diminishes SAD.
Plants oxygenized the area surrounding them. Staying in an oxygenized place for a while is boosting our energy.
Increase your creativity
Natural stimuli are positive and soothing because they are low arousing. Today’s technology and modern life are 2 factors that are very demanding. We are multitasking, have to go from one unfinished task another all the time.
Overall, it’s a huge sacrifice we ask to our brain. But the time spent outside, especially in nature or quiet places is helping to restore its natural pace. Our mind has more space and energy to work, hence increased productivity and creativity.
Creativity is essential for mental health. See my previous post “10 Simple Ideas To Take Care Of Your Mental Health.”
They are the energy generators of our cells. They efficiency and number are increased by several things, from the most efficient to the least: extreme cold, extreme heat, exercise and intermittent fasting or time restricted feeding.
Increasing our level of mitochondria is a power booster for us. Going for a walk, even a short one in cold weather is highly beneficial.
Practice “grounding” is having both feet on the earth. It helps our body get rid of the excess of electrical activity. Have you ever noticed that we suffer more from these awful static discharge during the winter? A dryer air is partly responsible. But also the fact that we are more isolated from the earth with our thick winter boots and anyway the fact that we stay inside. I’m saying that you have to go to work barefoot during the winter time, but some say that they practice barefoot stepping in the snow every morning. Apparently, it helps them activate their blood, and I’m sure it also release some of that electricity.
In short, take a cup of fresh air
I’m pretty sure I could find more reason to go outside in the wintertime. But these are already enough to support my advice: go out for a walk at least 20 min a day during the week. You can quickly do that at lunchtime. Skip your sandwich date with your computer screen; I’m sure it will understand that you need to go outside for a while.
Walk to your favourite coffee shop, or your bakery, walk your kids to school if doable, or park a little further from school and walk for 5 min. This simple action will do you good, but it’s also a precious gift you give to them before they start a hard day studying inside.
Don’t forget to reach the outdoor during the weekend. Bring your family for a walk in nature. This little time will improve every body’s mood, and you’ll spend far better time during the winter together when you are back home. When kids are young, we often go for these walks. But when they are teenagers, we usually let them skip this crucial time for a me-time locked in their bedroom. If you believe you must respect their privacy, you must also protect them from future serious illnesses.
Going outside, and outdoors is essential for our bodies and our souls.
If you want to read more about mental health: