On the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, Elizabeth and I challenged ourselves and listeners to “Go Outside 23 in ‘23”—go outside for 23 minutes a day in 2023.
That time outside can include any activity, from hiking up a mountain, to walking across a parking lot, to sitting on your front stoop.
Great things happen when we go outside!
Going outside boosts our physical and psychological health, gives us more time in nature, and helps us mindfully appreciate the moment and our senses.
But weather conditions can make it tough to go outside when it’s too cold, rainy, windy, or hot, or if air conditions are bad.
We asked listeners and readers, “What hacks and strategies do you use, to get outside for 23 minutes when the weather is bad?” We got many great suggestions.
Tips from podcast listeners:
- “My mom said this to me when I was young: ‘There is no bad weather, just bad clothes.’”
- “I live in Chicago and walk my children the three-quarters of a mile to school every day that it’s 10°F or warmer. It can get pretty cold and windy here, but having a clear policy eliminates any question about whether we should walk or drive on a given morning.”
- “I decided on ‘23 in 23, above 23 (degrees).’ On days below that, if I can’t get outside, I’ll do (look) outside 23 in 23, and spend time next to a sunny window, enjoying the beautiful views.”
- “Once I am dressed appropriately and out the door, I have found that I often end up staying out longer than 23 minutes. I just need the initial push to leave the house.”
- “I live in Alaska and suffer from Raynaud’s Syndrome. Wearing heated socks and gloves lets me join outdoor family activities like the Winter Solstice Tree Tour, which was held on a 0°F day this year.
Also: Even if you have snow pants, something about the shape, convenience or feeling of a ‘snowskirt’ removes a barrier to going outside”
“We live in a part of the country where the weather isn’t always great for going outside, and we have a garage we don’t park in, so I bought some astroturf mats and made an indoor/outdoor sports arena for my kid. When we open the garage, even when raining we get fresh air.”
- “I find immense joy in having the ‘right tool’ for a problem, in this case—the right clothes and gear for a cold weather day. I had never heard of a snow skirt until this podcast episode, and I also just recently learned they make WOOL TIGHTS. What? I always think to myself, ‘Why don’t I know about these things!’”
More tips from the social media community:
- “Proper clothing is key. Dress in layers. Warm boots, wool socks, non-cotton base layer, wool mid layer, waterproof outer layer, neck gaiter, hat, gloves. Properly dressed you can tolerate any temperature, and if you get moving, you’ll warm up & even enjoy it.”
- “My dogs and I do a short walk and long walk pretty much any day it is above about -5°F. But if it is colder than that or if the wind chill makes it feel colder, then we do many very short trips and stay in the back yard. Remember, many dogs need cold weather gear too to keep them warm and protect their feet.”
- “It definitely helps if you have a dog who counts on a 30-45 minute walk every morning!”
- “I adjusted the challenge to 2:30 minutes daily.”
- “It was already one of my ‘23 for 23’ to walk the boardwalk at Jones Beach every weekend morning around sunrise. It’s been too cold lately for the early morning hikes so I made the hike in the afternoon once it warmed up a bit.”
- “Have a cup of hot tea and a warm change of clothes ready for you when you get back!”
- “I put on my gigantic fake fur mink coat, once purchased for a Halloween costume. I curl up outside on my deck chaise under soft blankets, pop in ear buds, listen to music or meditation and soak in a bit of vitamin D. It’s my winter Me treat!”
- “Keep your cold weather footwear a bit larger. It allows for multiple layers of socks and gives freedom to wiggle your toes for better circulation.”
- “To be fair, I’ve counted time brushing off the car, scraping ice off the car and shoveling. So not all 23 are ‘fun’ 23.”
- “My best friend lives 5 hours away, also in a cold climate. We call each other and walk outside so it forces both of us to get out into the cold since neither of us are fans.”
- “I walk in the morning. I think it helps reset my sleep clock, even when it’s cloudy/raining. And then it’s off my to-do list. A good raincoat and warm layers. I let my wet sneakers dry on the heating vent so they’re ready the next morning. A nice hot shower as a reward.”
- “Hand warmers! I bought one for each pocket that are rechargeable.”
- “Go in the hot tub! Even if it’s -30, you can still go in with a toque on!”
Of course, not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to afford bad-weather gear, lives in a place where going outside in this way is possible, or is physically capable of managing it. Listeners and readers suggested:
- “I can’t get easily go outside these days, but I spend time looking out my front window. I get exposure to sunlight, and I get to appreciate nature with the changes in my yard, which has some big trees that are beautiful in every season. When it’s not too cold, I open the window to enjoy the fresh air and smells of the outdoors.”
- “Get a houseplant. One that needs lots of sunlight and love, so that as you care for it each day you get a little exposure to the sun (even if it’s just through a window) and nature. If you can’t bring yourself into the outside world, bring the outside world to you.”
It’s been so fun to see how enthusiastically people are embracing the #Outside23in23 challenge. Many people, it turns out, want to spend more time outside but just need a nudge or some structure to build it into their habits.
Plus, there are a lot of happy dogs!
Remember, it’s never too late—now is always the right time to begin.