The Amazing Benefits of Exercising Outside in Scotland in Winter

Edinburgh in Winter - Arthur's Seat

When most people think of winter in Edinburgh, they imagine dark days, horizontal rain and cold easterly winds.  This is not a picture that entices you outside.  Instead it makes you dream of warm homes and cosy blankets. 

We could remind you of the stunning winter days that are just a little chilly but have clear blue skies, sunshine and no wind.  But whatever the weather there are many great benefits of exercising outside in Scotland.

Boost Your Immune System

There are many articles that state getting outside on a regular basis boosts your immune system.  Most researchers say that they cannot scientifically state why but people who go outside into a green space every day, whether for a walk or run do seem to have a healthier immune system. And if my anecdotal evidence counts, I am certainly much much healthier since starting my outdoor boot camps.

Reduce Your Chances of Getting Winter Colds and Viruses

When the days become darker and colder people tend to stay indoors and seek indoor entertainment.  Or they take the bus instead of walking.  All this time spent in close proximity to our fellow human beings makes it far easier to spread coughs and colds.  Also if your immune system is low because you haven’t topped up your Vitamin D intake and taken enough exercise, then you are probably less likely to fight the germs.
Being outside takes you away from the germs and any exercise will help boost your immunity.  Being in the cold never results in you getting the cold.  You need to come in contact with a virus for that. 

Lady sneezing with winter cold or virus

A lady enjoying running outdoors in the winter

Stress Reliever

As Billy Connolly famously said “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing”.  Dress appropriately for exercising outside in the winter and then you will enjoy yourself and begin to feel the benefits.  Exercise increases endorphins that make us feel good and in turn can reduce stress.  This benefit does not disappear on a rainy day or in the winter.  

Reduce Your Chances of Getting Winter Colds and Viruses

Winter in Scotland is dark and for many people this seems to increase symptoms of depression and in particular SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).  You must see your GP if you are affected but both preventative treatments and ongoing treatments will include lifestyle changes such as getting as much natural sunlight as possible and taking regular exercise.

Benefit From Getting Vitamin D

Vitamin D is required in our bodies to keep us healthy and in particular to keep our bones strong.  Most people get the majority of their Vitamin D from sunlight and a small amount from foods such as oily fish and red meat.

However the problem in Scotland is that we don’t get very much strong sunlight from October to March.  For a while it was thought that if you went outside at midday you would benefit from some Vitamin D but recent research states that there is not enough UVB radiation in a Scottish winter for our skin to make vitamin D. 

Be Happier

What better reason to exercise outdoors in the winter than to become happier. 

There are hundreds of articles on the internet and in the newspapers that will tell you the latest scientific benefit of being outside in green spaces.  If you don’t believe them, do you remember your parents sending you outside to play to get some fresh air or to blow away the cobwebs.  Previous generations may not have had scientific proof why being outside was good but it was certainly expressed in their actions and sayings. 

At fitandhappy we believe exercising outside, whether at our boot camps or personal training sessions, will result in many benefits even in the winter.  All the benefits above merge to help you become fitter and happier.  The endorphins created from exercise make you feel good and help reduce stress.  Being surrounded by green spaces and trees, and breathing fresh air makes you breathe better and feel better. All of which improve your immune system and help with your mental health.

Get fitter and happier with Fit & Happy.

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