Improves immune function especially the mood. A nice walk, even if in cold and chill, has a beneficial effect on our health. Experts have explained why, even in the middle of winter, there is no reason to hide at home. Instead, it is better to overcome initial laziness and hesitancy and strive to go out for a quick walk, possibly in nature. With Professor Daniela Lucini, Head of Medicine at Humanitas, we saw why and what the benefits are.
The link between light and stress
In many American states the winter is characterized by really very low temperatures, which initially would make you imagine that the best thing to do for your health is to stay in the house warm, thus avoiding seasonal sickness. Instead, the advice came from the USA. In winter, even so as not to alter the natural wake-sleep rhythm, it is good to keep moving in the open air.
“The tendency to stay indoors when it’s cold is natural – observes John Sharp, psychiatrist specializing in ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ (SAD) at the Beth-Israel Deaconess Center in Boston – but it’s not a good recipe to feel better. Too little sunlight produces stress, affects psycho-physical well-being and makes us more pessimistic and fatigued.
Four reasons to exercise in the middle of winter
1. Natural daylight stimulates serotonin, the hormone of happiness, which is always reduced to a minimum during the winter. Light therapy helps against seasonal depression: that’s why it’s worth going for a walk to get it all.
2. Sunlight stimulates the synthesis of vitamin D, which activates the release of serotonin, strengthens the absorption of calcium, fights inflammation and boosts the immune system. It only takes 10 minutes a day outside to improve levels.
3. Walking in the cold helps memory. This is what a study by the University of Michigan says, which has observed a 20% increase in memory in a group of volunteers. The same benefits were evident in both summer and subzero temperatures.
4. Going out in the cold is like ‘meditating’: various researches have shown that walking lowers stress hormones and increases the activity of the immune system.
The opinion of Humanitas
“Everything starts from a geographical point of view – began Prof. Lucini -: in Italy it is never so cold as not to be able to go out as in some parts of Canada or North America. Easier to walk in the open air even in winter, just choose the right time. Let’s not forget, however, that each case is unique. The risks are always low if we talk about young individuals, trained, with technical clothing and without pathologies. The case of people with ischemic diseases at their expense or perhaps affected by asthma is quite different. In those cases the best thing is to choose the hottest moments and do the most tiring indoor sports during the coldest months.