Are you dreading winter weather because you don’t want to move your workout indoors? It may be cold outside, but braving the cold temps for your workout could actually have added benefits.
Before you move indoors for the winter, check out these benefits of working out in the cold.
You’ll burn more calories. Your body has to work harder to regulate its core temperature, meaning you’ll burn more calories in a cold weather workout that you would doing the same workout indoors.
You’ll do more for your heart. Just as your body has to work harder in the cold to regulate its core temperature, your heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout your body. If you have a healthy heart, exercising outside can make your heart even stronger and build more endurance for harder workouts in the future.
Note: If you have a weak heart, putting the added stress on your heart could actually be more detrimental, so talk to your doctor to find out if it’s healthy for you to work out outdoors.
You won’t forget your warm-up and cool-down. Cold weather will make your muscles even more stiff, making your warm-up and cool-down all the more important. When you step out into the cold for your workout, you won’t forget to give yourself a few extra minutes to warm-up and cool-down before and after your workout. Get in the habit of warming up and cooling down during the winter so you will continue that habit when the warm weather returns.
You’ll get much needed vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiencies are even more common in the winter when we spend more time indoors. Taking your workout outside will give you a good dose of vitamin D to help keep your bones healthy and protect against diseases and other health conditions.
Note: Don’t forget to put your sunscreen on! Even though it’s chilly outside, the sun can be just as damaging to your skin in the winter as in the summer, so lather up if you plan to be outside for more than 10 to 15 minutes.
You’ll be happier and more energized. If you enjoy the rush of energy your feel after a good workout, you’ll feel even better after a cold weather workout. Hot, humid summer weather can put a damper on your mood, but the chilly weather is stimulating. An outdoor workout will leave you feeling happier and more energized. As your body has to work harder to stay warm, endorphin (a.k.a. the “feel good” hormone) production will increase.
Winter Workout Safety Tips
Before you head outside for your workout this winter, be sure to take precautions to keep yourself safe. Here are a few tips:
Dress in layers. Wear loose, light layers that can be removed as your body heats up. The layer of clothing closest to your skin should be synthetic, moisture-wicking material to keep your body dry. The next layer should be insulating (like wool or fleece) to hold in your body heat, and the outer layer should be windproof and waterproof.
Cover your hands and ears. In below-freezing temperatures, frostbite is a big concern, so keep your hands and ears covered to protect them from the elements. If your skin begins to sting or feel numb, it’s time to go inside.
Wear shoes with good traction. An old pair of running shoes with a worn sole can be dangerous on wet or slippery surfaces. Invest in a new pair of shoes with good traction to help prevent falls.
Alter your route. In the winter, it’s best to run where others will see you if you need help. Avoid running on secluded trails in the winter where you may not be seen if you fall or get hurt.
Take your cell phone. Whether you work out in summer or winter, it’s smart to always have your cell phone with you.
Now, bundle up and take your workout outside!