Wed. Nov 29th, 2023
Mental Health Benefits of Going Outdoors This Winter

Getting outdoors in Ontario this winter may be quick, but it comes with a host of mood and health benefits.

The winter season brings cold weather, shorter days, and too much time cooped up indoors. It can even trigger a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

All the more reason not to hibernate!

Let’s look at some of the real mental health benefits of the outdoors during the winter season:

Increased vitamin D

Because of the cold, short days, and little sunlight, we tend to consume much less vitamin D in the winter.

A group of three seniors with cross-country ski equipment in a snowy park

Research has shown that vitamin D plays an important role in regulating mood, preventing depression, and improving energy levels.

Try to go outside for at least 15 minutes and sunbathe!

Stimulate your senses

When you go out, all your senses are stimulated.

Listen to your senses by observing the shapes of nature, smelling the scent of pine trees, and feeling the crisp winter air on your cheeks.

Two children in snowsuits with their backs to the camera, walking through a snowy forest

Using these senses outdoors helps calm our mind, increase our self-esteem and improve concentration.

Keep your body moving!

The winter months offer many great ways to stay active outdoors.

Whether you’re walking, skating, skiing, or shoveling snow, staying active will help you release stress, both physical and emotional.

A couple skating on an outdoor ice rink

Interacting with natural spaces for just 20 to 30 minutes a day, three days a week, can help reduce blood pressure and stress levels.

Try to find time in your day to get outdoors for your mental health.

See also  Improving access to Twin Points Trail in Killbear

Stay close to home and walk in a park during your lunch break or try a new trail on the weekend. No matter where you are, exercising with a side of Mother Nature can help you relax your mind.

Snowshoes resting on logs

Need a bit of inspiration? Check out our list of 5 ways to stay active in the cold.

Ready to go?

Ontario Parks has 31 parks open in winter. Each park offers many ways to stay active in the cold months.

Find a park near you and visit our Healthy Parks Healthy People page to learn more about the health benefits of getting outdoors.