Guest Post by Lisa Green with Intro by Crabby McSlacker
You see the happy face of the winter exerciser pictured above? That’s your first clue Crabby McSlacker didn’t write this post. She is a cowardly snowbird who flees to warmer climates when it gets cold. And she figured a winter picture of her exercising while holding a pina colada on a beach lined with palm trees might not be all that motivating to people in more northerly climates. (Though hell, with this winter’s weird weather, you too may be donning your swimsuits and reaching for tropical cocktails).
But guess what? It turns out outdoor cold-weather exercising comes with some side benefits you may not know about. This might be way more helpful to your motivation during sucky winter weather than anything Crabby might suggest.
Lisa Green writes for Gym Person where you can find useful training tips and resources. But never fear, Crabby will be back either later this week or early next week, you never know with her. See you soon! –Crabby
You can’t be blamed for wanting to ride out the winter season and get back in shape come spring. Or maybe you are even that kind of person that regardless of season prefers to workout at home rather than outdoors.
Regardless of how or where you like to train, you would be wasting an incredible opportunity if you let the winter slip away.
For people willing to brave the elements during the winter months; the cold temperatures and low humidity can turbo-charge your training and torch body fat to give you a beach-ready body in time for summer.
Keep reading to learn all the benefits of cold weather workouts!
Exercise in the Cold and Get Happy
Research demonstrates that exercising raises your endorphin levels. Endorphins are the natural chemical painkiller we produce that elevates mood and relieves stress. Exercising in the outdoors in cold weather is more strenuous than training in the summer time, creating an even greater release of this great chemical into your bloodstream.
You don’t have to do anything different to enjoy the mood-elevating effects of cold weather exercise. Just make sure you don’t forget to warm-up and stretch properly before getting out there.
Cold Weather Training Burns Fat
Cold weather training will burn more fat than training in warm weather.
While many people associate sweating with burning calories, sweating and the number of calories you burn are completely unrelated. Sweating is simply the body’s mechanism for cooling off.
What burns calories is physical effort not sweating.
Cold weather training will burn more fat for two reasons:
• Your body will burn more calories simply to keep warm
• Cold temperatures encourage your body to produce brown fat
Take advantage of these two facts to torch body fat and lean out for the warm season by doing one easy thing.
You’ll Become Cold-Proof
The human body is extraordinarily adaptable. By regularly exposing yourself to the cold your body will learn to generate higher levels of heat to counter the cold.
People who regularly exercise and work in cold temperatures are far less sensitive to dropping temperatures and remain comfortable in temperatures that would make most people shiver uncontrollably.
Improve Your Immune System
Exercising outdoors will improve blood circulation, and better circulation will result in a stronger immune response. Studies have proven that people who exercise get sick less frequently than people who are sedentary.
Cold weather exercise, being more strenuous will result in a better improvement in immune response than training in warmer weather.
A Chance to Try New Things
Winter exercise doesn’t have to be the same old grind, you can try something new!
Is there too much snow to run through? Build an igloo! The idea is to move your body and exercise your muscles almost any activity can qualify.
Here is a short list of fun winter activities that will get your heart pumping:
- Shovel snow; shoveling snow is an incredible all-body exercise. Make sure you use your legs and keep your back straight to prevent lower back injury
- Build a snowman; have fun out there and recapture some of the magic of your childhood
- Take a hike; find a field of deep snow and walk across it, lift your legs high and push your feet down deep for super cardio workout
- Go sledding; run your sled/inner-tube/cardboard box to the top of a hill and slide down-then repeat
- Go ice-skating; on a pond or at a skating rink, spend a few hours skating to burn hundreds of calories while you’re having fun!
Use your imagination; the number of ways to use snow and ice to train is only limited by your imagination.
However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind before you head outside for winter exercise:
That’s right. At temperatures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) , the natural increase in body temperature from even moderate exercise will keep you comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt. Nature will take care of the rest. Your body will burn copious amounts of energy (fat) to maintain your core temperature; the cold will stimulate your body to produce brown fat (which burns regular fat).
Just because you’re not sweating as much as you do while training in warm weather doesn’t mean you’re not losing precious water to the atmosphere. That steam coming out your mouth every time you exhale; that’s water. You’re also still sweating while you exercise in the cold, the low humidity and cold simply wicks the moisture away before it can start to run down your face.
When you train in the cold, make sure you bring water with you. Staying hydrated will increase your endurance, minimize fatigue, and keep your lips from getting chapped.
So Get Out There!
The benefits of training outdoors in cold weather are numerous: a better mood, boosted immune system, increased ability to tolerate changes in temperature, and increased fat burning, to name a few. It’s also a great way to change your fitness routine and bring some new excitement to what has likely become a stale routine. Use outdoor cold-weather training to restore your excitement for exercise.