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More Reasons to Get Outside

More Reasons to Get Outside

Mental Health Benefits of Being Outdoors 

Between social distancing, working from home, and other precautions to keep you and your loved ones safe, you’ve been a shut-in all week.

Despite gorgeous summer weather, you spent your evenings and weekend indoors. You binge-watched shows, racked up screen time on social media, scanned for politically charged articles, and mindlessly whiled away the hours crushing candy.

Then when Monday morning rolled around and you logged in to work, your motivation was nonexistent, and your energy at an all-time low.

After hours of staring blankly at a computer screen, you finally hit your breaking point. Deadlines be damned, you had to be outside.

Maybe you laced up your trail running shoes, threw your mountain bike in the bed of your truck, strapped a kayak to the roof of your car, or just drove to your favorite nature preserve and started walking.

Whatever you wound up doing, in 20 minutes you started to feel better. Your mood improved, creative ideas flowed more freely, you found a solution to a problem you’d been struggling with all morning. And when you got back to your computer, you were a completely different (and more productive) person.

If this describes a recent experience of yours, it’s no accident. In fact, there is mounting evidence to support the power of fresh air.

So, the next time you find yourself in a rut, don’t feel guilty about taking a break. The mental health benefits of exercising outside are backed by actual science. Still not convinced? Read on.

4 Reasons Why Going Outside is Good for You

1. Being in Nature Improves Your Mood

Citing a 2015 study, Harvard Health Publishing wrote that time spent in nature led to “…lower activity in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region that is active during rumination — defined as repetitive thoughts that focus on negative emotions.”

The article goes on to say that “calming nature sounds and even outdoor silence can lower blood pressure and levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which calms the body's fight-or-flight response.”

In non-clinical speak, we’re talking about chirping birds, a babbling brook, waves gently rolling onto a sandy shore, the crunching of leaves beneath your feet…you know, the general awesomeness of being in nature.

This doesn’t mean you should sell your place and move into a backwoods shack. According to the article, all you need is 20 to 30 minutes, three days per week in any spot that is quiet and free of urban stimulation.

For even better results, plan a couple of summer and fall camping trips over three-day weekends.

2. Being in Nature Benefits You Physically, Too

Referencing a study publishing in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research, Time Magazine wrote that spending time in green spaces (including city parks) has been shown to “…lower stress, blood pressure, and heart rate while encouraging physical activity and buoying mood and mental health.”

Other research points to an increase in white blood cell function, which can help boost immunity and fight infection.

The health benefits of nature are so profound, in fact, that doctors are starting to write “nature prescriptions” as part of their treatment plans. Imagine, instead of opening the door to your medicine cabinet to reach for some pills, you get to open a cabin door or unzip a tent to venture outside! 

3. Time Outdoors Can Help Improve the Quality of Your Sleep

One of the pitfalls of modern living is the ever-presence of artificial light. This is because artificial light (including light emitted by smartphone screens and TVs) can negatively affect our “circadian rhythms,” which help govern our natural sleep-wake cycles.

As WebMD suggests, a week spent camping has been shown to “…reset the body's ‘clock’ to be more in tune with nature's light-and-dark cycle. The result was longer sleep.”

These findings were echoed in a Time Magazine article, which said that “…people’s internal clocks were delayed by two hours in their modern environment—which isn’t a good thing, since an out-of-whack sleep cycle has been linked to health problems like sleepiness, mood problems and a higher risk of being overweight. But they were able to recalibrate after a week in nature.”

Don’t have time for a week in the woods? Simply being outdoors can help you sleep, particularly as you age. According to Stanford Medicine, “…males and females 65 and over found nature to be a potent sleep aid.” They added that “If there is a way for persons over 65 to spend time in nature, it would improve the quality of their sleep--and their quality of life…” 

4. Exercise Lowers Your Blood Pressure

As the previous examples help illustrate, a nice, long sit at your favorite scenic overlook will do you a lot of good when you're stressed. As it turns out, the brisk hike up to the overlook is just as important.

According to John Hopkins Medicine, exercise leads to a stronger heart, which can pump more blood with less effort. They add that “…40 minutes of aerobic exercise four times a week may lower your blood pressure as much as some medications do.” 

If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, start by getting outside and moving.

How to Measure Winter Mitten Size

How to Measure Winter Mitten Size

How to fit winter mitts the right way 

Imagine you snagged the first chair up after a massive overnight snowfall. You feel like you’re practically flying over puffy, white pillows of powdery goodness, ducking in and out of the trees, hitting every kicker at will. Finishing a sublime first run, you make your way to the lift for another go only to notice that your hands are already stinging from the cold. So, instead of an hour of bliss on the freshies, you’re headed to the lodge to stand by the fire. By the time you’re back on the slopes, everything is tracked out.

Just like your boots, helmet, and goggles, your mittens need to fit right to provide optimal performance. A great fitting mitt can deliver its best-possible combination of dexterity, feel, warmth, and weather protection. While the incorrectly sized mitt can make you cold, uncomfortable, and prone to dropping everything from keys to ski poles.

Most people have a general idea of what size mitt he or she needs, but few know how to measure for mitts or why it’s important.

To get all the benefits of a good working fit, follow our tips below. 

How to Measure Hands for Mittens

  1. Measure Hand Length

The distance from the tip of your middle finger to the fold of your wrist (where your palm meets your wrist) is your hand length. Using a ruler or tape measure, record this distance for your dominant hand. If you don’t know which is the dominant hand, make them thumb wrestle to see which one wins.

  1. Measure Hand Width

Hand width is the circumference of your hand just below your knuckles, excluding your thumb. Unless you’ve got special powers to bend objects with your mind, use a tape measure to determine hand width, as this measurement requires you to wrap the tape around your knuckles, sides, and palm.

  1. Determine Your Mitt Size

Compare your measurements with the charts below to determine your correct mitten size.

Mainers Extreme Cold Mitt Size Chart

Mitt Size

Hand Length (in)

Hand Length (mm)

Hand Width (in)

Hand Width (mm)

Small (S)





Medium (M)





Large (L)





Extra-Large (XL)






Most people will easily fall into one of the sizes above. If this is the case, your mitt size search stops here. Grab your gear and get out there.

If you find yourself between sizes, the slopes will have to wait another minute. Instead, you’ll need to figure out just how you like your mittens to fit by proceeding to step 4.

  1. Determine Your Fit Preference

Looser = Warmer
Tighter = Enhanced Dexterity

If you measure your hand and find yourself straddling two sizes, ask yourself this question: Do you care more about warmth or dexterity?

Sizing Down for Dexterity: This is pretty self-explanatory. A tighter mitten is going to more closely resemble your skin. You’ll have an easier time feeling objects in your hand, and there will be fewer folds of fabric getting in the way when you try to do something requiring fine motor skills. You know, like operating your phone’s touch screen so you can ‘Gram that pic of you sending it in the terrain park.

Sizing Up for Warmth: At the end of the day, a primary function of insulation is to trap air around your skin. Why? Air is one of nature’s best insulators. A mitt with a looser fit will allow for a larger layer of air around your fingers, helping to keep you warmer.

Naturally, a mitt that’s too tight will be uncomfortable to wear, and a mitten that’s too loose will feel awkward. So when in doubt, go with the fit that feels best.