Friluftsliv gettingoutinthecold microbesandnature natureandwellbeing spendingtimeoutside tipsforgettingoutside

Why getting out in the cold is good for your gut

Feet in fallen leaves

It’s getting colder and the days are shorter. It is tempting to hibernate indoors. But there are reasons why you should resist the urge to stay indoors and instead embrace the great outdoors.

We are conditioned to believe that exposure to the cold can be detrimental to our health, but it can actually have the opposite effect. Particularly through exposure to microbes.

Spending time outside allows you to interact with the wide range of microbes in nature. These microbes help diversify your gut microbiome, and as we always say – diversity is the key to a healthy gut.

Microbes can help to stimulate your immune system, A study by knights lab found that some immune cells multiply when exposed to certain microbes of the Bacillus Family, and these strains can be found widely in nature. More microbes means more immune fighting cells. Making your immune system more resilient and better equipped to fight off illnesses, including the common cold and flu.

It’s no secret that fresh air and being in nature is good for your mental health. But did you know that microbes also play a part in this? Studies have found microbes in the soil that trigger the production of serotonin (the feel-good chemical). So if you’re feeling down get outside and roll in some mud – no matter the weather!

The Norwegians are a great example of a nation which has fully embraced the benefits of getting outside. It’s so instilled into their lifestyle that they even have a name for it. Friluftsliv is the term used for spending time outside to aid both your physical and spiritual wellbeing. It is the belief that connecting with nature is our true calling and through this we can connect to each other.

Friluftsliv is not just a cultural concept but a lifestyle choice that is embraced by many Norwegians. A survey found that 9 out of 10 felt less stressed when spending time in nature and the government is invested in the benefits of getting outside – so much so that they fund libraries that allow people to borrow outdoor gear.  

Now that you’re convinced of the importance of spending time outdoors in winter, here are some of our tips to help you embrace the chill:

1. Dress Appropriately

You may have heard the term “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. Appropriate gear is the key to an enjoyable winter excursion. Layer your clothing to stay warm and comfortable. Invest in quality winter gear like waterproof jackets and shoes. These items can be expensive new, but you would be surprised at the quality that you can find in a second-hand shop.

2. Plan Fun Activities

Make outdoor excursions enjoyable by planning activities you love. There isn’t much that you can’t do in the colder months, with the right gear and training you could even go for a chilly swim. Whether it’s hiking, birdwatching, or winter photography, having a purpose makes it easier to get outside.

3. Embrace the Darkness

Winter days are shorter, but this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy outdoor activities at night. A cozy campfire is a great evening activity. Bundle up, grab some sausages and marshmallows and huddle round a crackling fire. You could also try stargazing, moonlit walks, or even winter camping.

4. Warm Up Afterwards

Reward yourself with a warm drink or a cozy fire when you return indoors. After braving the cold, small indulgences like a hot chocolate or reading under a blanket feel like a well earned treat.

Getting outside during the colder months offers a multitude of physical and mental health benefits. By embracing the outdoors and adopting the Nordic concept of Friluftsliv, you can enhance your overall well-being, strengthen your immune system, and find joy in the winter season. So, layer up, grab your gear, and discover the magic of winter’s embrace—it’s an adventure waiting to happen right outside your door.

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