4 Reasons to Spend Time Outdoors This Season
4 REASONS TO SPEND TIME OUTDOORS THIS SEASON
Written by Andy Vantrease
With solstice and holiday celebrations behind us, the North West has officially tipped into its coveted winter season. Montana has seen snow on-and-off since September, and the new year brings promise of powder-painted pines, frozen lakes and plenty of opportunities to enjoy nature’s beauty.
Winter’s calm, grounding energy proves essential to our emotional, physical and mental well-being, providing a chance for us to slow down and become more intentional with how we spend our time. While animals hibernate, plants decompose and the natural world dutifully collects and preserves energy to power the spring rebirth, we are reminded to cherish the ways we relate to and participate in our surroundings.
Though it seems tempting to hole up next to the woodstove until May, it’s important to weave in movement and adventure as winter’s wonderland calls to us from the window.
Here are four benefits to spending time outdoors this season:
The sound of silence
There’s nothing like a walk through the forest after a big snowfall. The birds have sought refuge in the trees, the sky is luminous and clear, and the air twinkles with crystalline residue. Most importantly, the world has fallen silent.
In our modern lifestyles, rife with smartphones, computers, to-do lists and expectations, it’s a challenge to find places free from distractions. Pick a trail to meander down, and when you’ve gone far enough—stop walking and listen. Your worries will seem further away, a soft, atmospheric barrier between worlds, seemingly created just for you. Honestly, I wait all year for this feeling. Sometimes—especially that first snowfall of the season—I’m brought to tears as I stand in the elusive, yet biologically familiar, stillness.
Fresh air medicine
It’s no secret that spending time outside has a myriad of mental and physical health benefits. For those who live in more populated areas or work long hours indoors, the environmental pollution and dry, recycled heat can be tough on your immune system. Getting outside and breathing cool, pure air can help your body fight seasonal colds and viruses, sleep better, lower inflammation and boost brain activity.
Next time you’re experiencing a creative block or feel a cold coming on, put on your winter accessories and head outside for some old-fashioned natural medicine. The combination of movement, fresh air and time spent away from your routine can help shift you into a healthier state of being.
Need even more ammo for your body’s defenses this season? Getting outdoors in the winter can almost guarantee a hearty workout. The added elements of winter weather provide built-in resistance training, and your body will thank you for any amount of activity you do amidst the snow, ice, wind and low temperatures.
Shovel the driveway, bring in firewood, walk your dog, get the mail—in extreme conditions, even the simplest tasks require extra balance, strength and stability. Not to mention, a day in snowshoes will have your legs burning and your heart pumping without having to step foot near a gym. No matter what level of activity you crave, the beautiful winter landscape provides plenty of options.
An excuse to play
Schedules can be hectic this season, but winter weather invites you to remember what it’s like to be a kid: The excitement of opening the curtains to a white-out. To get the news that school is delayed—or cancelled! To dedicate an entire day to play. Of course, you don’t have to cancel all your plans, but it can be fun to intentionally let your guard down and try something new with an attitude of childlike wonder.
Snowboarding, cross-country skiing, fat-tire biking, hot spring soaking—there are countless ways to enjoy the snow. Some plans require an organized trip, such as a day on the slopes, and others can happen spontaneously and close to home, like building a snow sculpture right in the front yard. This just in: Kids don’t have to be involved for snow-people to be constructed or friendly snowball fights to erupt. Trust me on this one.
If you’re in need of outdoor adventure companions, look out for Mountain Girl’s monthly meetup schedule, where you can link up with other women in your area and seize the magic of winter together!