Ciara’s Corner: 5 good reasons to step outside even when it’s cold

By Ciara Lawrence.

It can be easy to stay in at home and be on your own, especially during a pandemic. I did that a lot at the beginning of Covid until I was allowed to have social distance walks with my mum in my local park.  

While working at home during the pandemic, I have tried to get outside for at least one hour a day to get some fresh air and exercise.  This helped boost my general health and my mental health and forced me to be away from my computer, my TV and all the troubling news going on in the world.  

It is really important that families and people with a learning disability have the right support to access the community outside like anyone else. 

During winter’s darker days, it’s easy to want to snuggle up inside and it’s ok to feel feelings of low mood and fatigue.  

Here are a few ways why you should try and get outside even in the cold; 

It will make you more productive – If you are working from home again or self-isolating, take five to ten minutes every hour at least (like I did), to break for a hot drink or a stretch. Even doing a small chore sometimes is the perfect excuse to switch off and will make you more productive when you return to your desk. 

Go on a Sensory walk – These allow you to use your senses to connect with your surroundings whilst you stay active.  Ordnance Survey offer a list of sensory walking routes and resources to support you to use your senses to connect with nature.  The walks are designed for people with complex disabilities, but can be enjoyed by anyone. Download the free OS Maps app to use sensory walks.  

It will lift your mood – Sunlight equals vitamin D and that creates good feelings in your body. A breath of fresh air. 

Move move move – whether you wheel it, run it or step it up, doing something physical outdoors, up your street, in your garden or at your local park does wonders for the mind and soul. Studies show that exercising outside can heighten self-esteem, improve mood and lower stress levels. Join the Head2Head StepUp Challenge this February and all your hard work will be rewarding. 

It recharges your immune system – One Japanese study measured the ability of “forest bathing,” or a short, leisurely run around a forest, to improve immunity. Did you know that exercise, even walking out in the cold, may help keep illness at bay because it flushes bacteria out of your airways and lungs, according to MedlinePlus