Do you abandon your warm-weather workout routines when winter hits? Walking, jogging, running—you shouldn’t give those up just because there’s a temperature drop, or so we’ve read. Prevention magazine says, “Sticking with your usual exercise routine is one of the best ways to boost your chances of starting the new year a size smaller,” continuing with, “Your bones will stay strong, and your walking muscles won’t be screaming when you head out for your first warm-weather jaunt.”
From my personal experience of jogging during winter months, I find the crisp, cold air to be invigorating. I don’t feel dragged down like I would by summer’s heat and humidity, but rather, I feel healthy and alive. There are some factors to consider, though, before stepping outside. Sources say that we should stretch for at least 10 minutes when the temperature is between 35 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Since it’s likely for joints to get tighter from the cold, performing a combination of exercises will result in an effective warm-up, allowing us to push our minds and bodies further.
Take a look at five major benefits of exercising in cold weather:
You’ll strengthen your heart
Studies suggest that cold weather makes the heart work harder and become stronger while also strengthening the lungs and cardiovascular system. Active.com says, “Research shows that runners are not in danger of freezing their lungs, even in the coldest places on Earth such as the North and South Poles. Thanks to our body’s brilliant design and adaptability, air reaches body temperature by the time it greets our lungs.” But to be on the safe side, you can prevent the runner’s cough by wearing a balaclava or scarf that blocks in the warmth.
You’ll drink more water
While staying hydrated is important in any temperature, Shape magazine interviewed Mitzi Dulan, registered dietitian, sports nutritionist, and co-author, and found that, “it’s actually easier to become dehydrated in the winter because the thirst response reacts differently when we are not sweating in the heat and are instead exposed to cold weather.” So, as your sweat evaporates more quickly into the chilly, dry air, it’s important to drink lots of water, keeping hydration at bay and optimizing your winter workouts.
You’ll burn more calories
When you exercise in the cold, your body works harder and your metabolism accelerates, encouraging those calories to burn and produce energy. The Huffington Post says, “As the body works harder to regulate its core temperature among the elements, you’ll burn a few more calories during your wintry workout compared to one conducted indoors.” To add to that, Women’s Health magazine interviewed Glen Haney, certified personal trainer and exercise physiologist, to see what he thought about this. His response: “It is true that you burn slightly more calories in colder weather. That’s because your metabolic rate increases to warm your body, and that bit of extra work means more burn.” Perhaps it’s all that walking into the wind or trudging through the snow stuff.
You’ll get vitamin D
Exercising outside gives you that perfect chance to soak up necessary doses of vitamin D, known for promoting stronger bones, improved muscle function, and a decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes. And to tell you just how important vitamin D is, we’ll refer to the Washington Post. Recently, they featured a study that found “adults who increased their vitamin D intake during the winter enhanced 291 genes in their circulating immune cells. These genes control more than 80 biologic processes, including helping cells repair their damaged DNA, and promoting the death of cells that are in the process of becoming cancerous and improving immune function to help fight infections.” OK, say no more!
You’ll feel more energized
Have you ever noticed that summer heat can tire your body faster than it does in colder temperatures? It’s true that chilly weather is refreshing, it wakes you up, and it stimulates you to work harder. Fitness magazine spoke with Chris Heuisler, who helps runners prepare for races, to learn about his favorite reasons to run outside. One reason was, “As the body works harder to stay warm, the amount of endorphins produced also increases, leaving you with a stronger sense of happiness and lightness.” Endorphins, or the “feel good” hormone, are the burst of energy we need to make us move and to make us perform.
Keep it safe, though …
There are several benefits when it comes to exercising outside, but winter temperatures also make for icy paths and sidewalks, and cold-weather dangers, like frostbite, hypothermia, and lung trouble. It’s OK—there are steps we can take to prevent problems like those! First, wear several layers with the top being windproof and waterproof. Properly insulate your face, ears, fingers, and toes because they’re the first to get frostbitten. Then, check the treads on your sneakers. If they’re worn down, you won’t be getting the traction you need. That’s that! We hope these reasons will encourage exercise goers out there to continue with their workouts, even in the cold months! And if you have any exercise tips and safety precautions for us, please share them in the comment section below. We at HealingRadius only want the best for you and others.
Allyson Miller is a bookworm, history nerd and outdoor enthusiast who loves writing creative and informational content for SBT in Rock Hill, SC. Depending on the day, you can find her with her nose in historical documents, shopping for trendy exercise outfits or trying new cooking recipes. Allyson dreams that one day, engineers will figure out a way to build roller coasters sans the incline, ridding her of coasterphobia.