Cold and snowy weather is no reason to stay indoors waiting for spring. Forest Preserve District of Will County staff members have come up with the top five reasons why you should find your boots, gloves, hats and scarves and head outdoors this time of year.
Enjoying outdoor activity in the winter:
1) Keeps the blues away.
Outdoor activity leads to the absorption of more sunlight, which can ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder, a condition that leads to sadness and exhaustion due to the shorter days of winter. Brisk temperatures can also be invigorating and lead to a sense of feeling more energized. Plus, staying active year-round is always a good idea for keeping healthy and in shape.
2) Gives you a greater chance of seeing wildlife in foraging mode.
Coyotes along Centennial Trail. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Keyes)
Since there are fewer people in the preserves and there is less shrubbery, wildlife are easier to spot as they gather and hunt. Watch and listen to locate them. In particular, winter provides an opportunity to see rare bird species that have migrated from up north, including tree sparrows, dark-eyed juncos and snowy owls. These birds can only be seen in our area during the winter months. Colorful birds, like Cardinals, really stand out against the snowy landscape. Wildlife also leave tracks in the snow, so you know animals have been nearby even if you don’t see them.
3) Clears your mind.
There is nothing like time spent in nature to instill a sense of peace and calm. The quiet woods will lead to your own moment of Zen. Because daylight is limited in the winter, it’s a good opportunity to hear the peaceful hoot of an owl without having to stay up so late. Listen for every crunch in the snow as animals move about. Hear the whistling of the wind as it travels through bare tree branches. Watch the movement of local waterways within their snow covered banks.
4) Promotes a better appreciation of all the seasons.
Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve (Photo by Suzy Lyttle)
Walking through a winter landscape can provide a new view of nature. Winter night skies are generally clearer for stargazing, and there are some amazing constellations to check out in the winter, including Orion, which is one of the easiest to find. Seeing the outdoors in all of its phases aids in recognizing the good qualities of every season. It also makes the early buds and flowers that sprout in the spring even more thrilling.
5) Keeps you plugged into Forest Preserve District of Will County activities year-round!
Whether it’s sledding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing or ice skating, the Forest Preserve District has you covered with winter fun. If you’re looking for something a little more relaxing, peruse our winter program offerings for birdwatching, star gazing, photography hikes and more.
So bundle up and go outside to relax or burn calories, commune with nature or preserve it in a photo!
(Lead image via iStock Photo)
Article by Cindy Cain
17540 W. Laraway Road, Joliet, IL 60433