It’s a great question! It’s hard to think about the benefits of exercise when it’s cold, wet and most likely dark so it’s understandable you’re wondering why on earth would I want to go out and exercise in this cold winter.
However, once we’ve shown you the huge benefits of exercising outdoors in the cold we think you’ll be whipping on your running gear before you can say ‘Wow it’s cold’.
While you might be rightly concerned about the dangers of exercising outside in cold conditions, there is nothing to be worried about. You just need to dress accordingly, with several layers of absorbent clothing, to allow your body to regulate its temperature and function properly.
Also make sure you don’t forget to warm up and do your stretches before and after!
5 benefits of exercise you’ll get when it’s cold
We’ve listed 5 great reasons why you’ll reap the benefit of exercise in the winter months if you carry on doing it outdoors .
It does not have to be running just as good for you would be a long walk, this way you can stay wrapped up and warm and still get your heart pumping.
Or why not try cycling, fast walking or if you’re in the right location how about a winter sport like snowboarding (you don’t have to be near mountains with plenty of dry slopes available.
1. You’ll burn more calories
Go for a walk even when the weather is really cold – your body has to work overtime to regulate its core temperature and you may burn up to 50% more calories than you would on the same walk in summer!
But remember, go a little slower until you get warm and keep up the hydration.
Read also: Training With Equipment: Easier or Harder?
2. Elevate your mood and become invigorated
Your level of endorphins increases the harder the body has to work, so you should be left with a stronger sense of happiness after working out in the cold. There is a lot of research showing a link between sunlight and depression, with vitamin D being considered an important factor in the prevention and treatment of depression and other mental health disorders.
3. Boost Vitamin D levels
If you can get out during the daylight hours and it’s sunny then you’ll benefit just as much from winter sun as summer sun when it comes to boosting your Vitamin D levels. Some studies suggests that exercise in cold may boost your immune system and help protect your body from colds, flu and other infections.
4. Strengthen your heart and lungs
The cold air makes the heart work harder to pump the blood through your veins, strengthening it.
5. Make spring exercise easier!
By exercising in the cold winter days and nights your endurance performance will increase meaning when spring arrives exercise should feel that little bit easier.
Make sure you warm up, stretch and wear the right clothing
It’s essential to make sure you perform full warm-up and cool-down routines, the former to keep your internal body temperature elevated, and the latter to reduce unnecessary tightness than can be brought on by a chill in the air.
Here’s a video from Psychetruth showing how to do full body stretches for beginners…
Wear the right clothing
The right clothes when exercising outdoors in winter are essential – they must assure thermal protection without overheating.
Up-to-date research recommends using three layers of clothing which create two successive air layers…
1st layer – for the ones that’s touching the skin, avoid cotton. Synthetic fabrics such as Gore-tex, Polypropylene and Lycra are best – they do not retain perspiration and do not transform themselves into cold wet compresses for the chest and back, here’s a great example.
2nd layer – warmer materials such as wool or fleece can be used
3rd layer – the fabric for the last layer has to be water and windproof. Gore-Tex is a fabric used widely for providing protection from the rain and wind. Something along the lines of this breathable Karrimor would fit the bill plus it’s nice and bright for safety.
Give special attention to protecting the head, neck and hands. Especially the head with a hat made of the same types of fabric as the 1st layer: scientific studies have proved that the skull allows the greatest heat loss.
For protecting the neck, it is good to wear polo necks or scarves made of the same material as the clothing’s last layer.
Avoid wearing several pairs of cotton socks does, too as they forbid eliminating the perspiration.
Make sure you also…
1. Beware of Ice! Let’s make sure you reap the benefits of exercise without doing yourself harm.
2. Make sure you hydrate before, during and after your workout – cold as well as heat tends to dehydrate
Also, If you’re not feeling well due to flu or other illness, it’s best to skip workouts. As your flu-weakened body won’t be able to function in cold weather, and you could end up weakening your immune system.
If these recommendations are respected, we can not only train and reap the benefits of exercise during the cold season we can also LOVE doing it!
And if you really just cannot bring yourself to exercise outdoors this winter, why not book yourself a Fitness break to somewhere warm?