RICHMOND, Va. -- Finding the time to get outside and enjoy nature and exercise can be tough. During the winter, with low temperatures, snow-covered roads and parks, and fewer daylight hours, it can feel nearly impossible for some people.
That is why so many adults and children suffer from the winter blues.
Winter weather can often trigger a form of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
Doctors say our bodies need the sun’s UVB rays for vitamin D.
The lack of vitamin D affects one in two people worldwide, according to the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics.
Studies show that getting outside, even if for a few minutes a day, can improve the way we feel.
“Being outside, breathing fresh air, it changes everything, particularly your mood,” therapist Dr. Stephanie Walsh said.
Walsh said getting outside can reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and anger. It can improve confidence and self-esteem.
If dressed warmly, in layers, doctors also say winter weather doesn’t make you sick. In fact, getting outside can help boost your immunity.
Meeting with friends outside can also help combat isolation by allowing you to connect with people in a safer way.
“We tend to think of it, as adults, as exercise but remember that kids think of it as play. So get them to go outside and play and have some fun,” Walsh said.
The simple act of walking outdoors increased creativity in 81% of participants, according to a study performed by the National Institute of Health.
Therapists and physicians both say physical activity, combined with the stimulation of experiencing nature, can make all the difference in combating the winter blues.
While they say it can be difficult to motivate during the cold days or convince yourself to try new things, they recommend choosing 15 minutes a day to go outside and take walk, or just enjoy nature. Odds are, you’ll want to increase the time you spend outdoors with each passing day.
This segment is sponsored by WHOA Behavioral Health.