Winter Fitness

Keeping Fit In The Cold

Jack Frost; Everybody’s Personal Trainer.
When it’s cold outside, perhaps nothing sounds better than skipping the gym, making yourself a hot cup of cocoa, and curling up with your favorite book, magazine, or TV show. But if you can manage to get yourself outside to exercise, you’ll thank yourself for it later. There are many benefits to exercising in cold weather, so while your natural inclination may be to settle in to a state of hibernation, try to fight those instincts. Get yourself outside and get your blood flowing!

When you exercise in the cold, you burn more calories. Your body needs to work harder in order to increase its core temperature, and that translates to more weight loss for you. When you exercise in the cold, you burn 10-40 percent more calories than you normally would. You also increase your endurance, since your heart, lungs, and circulatory systems all have to work harder. Come spring and summer, if you have exercised outside during the winter, you will have noticeably higher endurance.

The benefits extend beyond performance results as well. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects almost all of us to varying degrees, and exercising outside during the winter can help fight it. The cold weather will keep your mind sharp, the activity will increase your level of energy, and the sun will provide you with much-needed vitamin D. You’ll also boost your immune system, hydrate better, and build your tolerance to the cold elements.

Winter Runner

There are certain precautions to take when exercising in the cold, of course. Warm-up and cool-down routines are that much more important, as well is dressing properly. Try to dress in layers of wicking wool or synthetic material (cotton gets wet and cold very fast), so you can adjust your clothing throughout your workout. Make sure you wear sunscreen as well—our bodies are less likely to “feel the burn” when its cold out, but the sun can still be quite strong. Exercising in extreme temperatures can also increase the risk of heart attacks, so be sure to increase your activity gradually and pay attention to your body. Frostbite, hypothermia, and slippery ice are all very real dangers, so take proper precautions and watch your step.

After exercising in the cold, a steam bath, hot soak, sauna, or massage is a great way to unwind and soothe your sore muscles. Cold weather has a tendency to make even the most die-hard yoga practitioner tighten up, so don’t hesitate to work out those kinks and knots with heat, water, and massage.

Written by Hunter Ellis for bodono