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Why exercise outside?

Yes, winter is approaching. But that’s no reason to stay inside for exercise.

Fitness experts and researchers are finding that outdoor workouts in cold weather offer unexpected benefits. For instance, increasing your exposure to sunlight may help fend off seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, a type of depression linked to the change in seasons. Numerous pieces of research show a clear connection between spending time outside and reduction of stress. Plus, fresh air and increased oxygen helps releases the feel-good brain chemical, serotonin-meaning your outdoors sessions not only helps keep you fit and healthy, they put you in a fantastic mood too. Which as every new mother will know is needed? Studies have shown that exercise can help Postnatal Depression. Therefore, the double benefits an outdoor workout can really help your week.

Babies also benefit from the fresh air and being outside.

Would you put your baby or toddler outside in the freezing cold for their lunchtime nap? Most Nordic parents wouldn't give it a second thought. For them it's part of their daily routine. Wander through the snowy city and you'll see buggies lined up outside coffee shops while parents sip on lattes inside. The theory behind outdoor napping is that children exposed to fresh air, whether in summer or the depths of winter, are less likely to catch coughs and colds - and that spending a whole day in one room with 30 other children does them no good at all. Winter in the UK can be very isolating for parents with newborns or young babies. Cold temperatures and icy weather make you feel like you need to hibernate, but nothing leads to a stir-crazy parent and baby like spending months indoors. Dress the baby in layers just like yourselves, have a hat that covers their ears and a one-piece snowsuit which is not too bulky as it can restrict movement, and lastly a good pair of thick wool baby socks.

From a practical standpoint, parks are less populated in colder months, while gyms and classes get even more crowded.

A recent study from the University of Tampere in Finland found that working out in nature leads to greater emotional well-being and better sleep than exercising indoors—and that’s no less true in winter than in spring, summer or Autumn, and is also true for babies and toddlers.

The answer is what to wear, layers are the key. Start with a base layer of synthetic material or a wool-synthetic blend (no cotton), which keeps moisture away from the body, thus preventing chill. (Damp garments draw heat away from your body.) Wear a middle layer of fleece or wool to act as insulation, and a breathable outer shell made of wind- and water-resistant material. A common mistake is wearing too many clothes or wearing an outer layer that’s too heavy. Remember nothing is worse than having cold hands and feet, look for wool-synthetic blend socks and synthetic glove liners and finally wear all-weather waterproof shoes with good grip.

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