One of the most challenging times of year for staying motivated to workout (especially outside) is in the winter time.
I mean who wants to bundle up in a parka and go out into the freezing cold night to head to the gym right?
And unless you’re a skier the odds of working out outside are pretty much slim and none for the average person. Yet those “winter workouts” as we call them have many benefits to our body some of which are even better in the winter than in the summer.
You see, cold weather workouts are far more challenging as compared to summer workouts. The body loses heat faster through convective heat transfer, and it may be challenging to maintain the core temperature of your internal organs as you work out.
To work out in cold weather, you need to make appropriate preparations. As we mentioned, you need to put on layers of clothes to keep warm and comfortable, and, when it’s dark and icy, it gets even more difficult to exercise.
Additionally, the temptation to stay indoors and watch Netflix may make it very difficult to exercise, but if you are disciplined enough and you do go out, winter workouts can have several benefits on your body and your mind. These include:
1. It Improves Your Mood
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or ‘winter blues’ is characterized by depression. According to research published in Psychiatry, approximately 20 percent of Americans suffer from mild to severe depression during winter. One of the best ways of combating these feelings of sadness is by working out. Workouts can help our bodies secrete more feel-good hormones.
Researchers have found that workouts are up to 4 times more effective than taking antidepressants in the relief of depression symptoms. If you decide to exercise outdoors, you will not only get fresh air and boost your mood but also get a good dose of vitamin D.
2. It Boosts Your Immune System
Each winter brings around illnesses, and most people blame it on the cold weather. However, it is the viruses that make us sick and being congested in a heated room can expose you to more viruses compared to staying outdoors.
3. It Is A Great Cardiovascular Exercise
Both your body and the cardiovascular system works harder when working out in the cold weather. Your heart works hard to pump blood, and this keeps it healthy and in good shape. With heart diseases being on the rise, it is a great thing to know that winter workouts can help in keeping your heart healthy and strong.
4. It Makes Increasing Workout Intensity Less Difficult
If you like to run, bike, or walk, the humidity and heat of summer can make it challenging to up your mileage or intensity. On the other hand, cold weather makes it easier to handle more intensity since you are not subjected to that stress.
If you want to break a new personal record in a race, you should try working out during winter. According to a study that was published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercises, marathon runners recorded slow performance in warm temperatures as compared to colder temperatures.
5. You Burn More Calories
When working out during winter, your metabolism will speed up. It also works faster, and thus you end up burning more fat. An increased metabolism rate means that you may end up losing a few pounds.
One final note… During winter workouts, it is crucial to do an adequate warm-up before stressing your body as well as making sure you do a cool down as well to relax your muscles.
One of the biggest reasons so many people have heart attacks while shoveling snow is that
they just head out the door, grab the shovel and get to work. An average shovelful of snow can weigh 20-30 pounds and doing that repeatedly without warming up properly puts a tremendous amount of stress on the body most especially the heart.
A 5-10 minute warm up (even marching in place) before you head out to shovel the driveway could save your life!