When it gets cold out… I mean really cold out, I like being all snuggled up in bed. Sometimes, I don’t like the idea of going outside and working out. Getting out of a nice and cozy warm bed to go outside and exercise when it is freezing cold may not be your idea of a good time either. Here in NJ, we are not at that point…. yet! But it is coming and probably sooner than I want!
But as my mother used to say, “You should do somethings even if you don’t like to do them – it might be good for you!” So even if you (and I_ don’t like to work out in the cold, you might wan to consider trying it. Exercising in the cold has several benefits over doing it in warm weather.
Burns more calories
It’s true, exercising outdoors in the winter ramps up your metabolism and in the end, you burn more calories than if you had exercised in warm weather. Part of the reason is it takes more energy to keep your body warm when it is cold outside. Depending on what you are doing, the exercise itself can burn a lot of calories. Take cross country skiing at a brisk speed for example; calories burned are 544 per hour. Snowshoeing is another high calorie winter sport at 476 calories per hour. And both sports are something different from your normal routine so they can prevent boredom, not to mention the wonderful landscape you’ll see.
Your body must work harder in the winter to get the same amount of work accomplished. Thus, it builds your heart and cardiovascular system, along with increasing lung capacity. Workout all winter outside and you’ll be in much better shape when spring comes around. This means you can do more right off the bat instead of having to work up to the performance level you were at before winter set in.
Invigorates the mind and body
There is just something about doing intense winter workouts outside in the cold. For one, it will add some rosiness to your cheeks; the air smells fresher; because you are out in the sunshine, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is less of an issue; you are getting your vitamin D; the list of benefits go on and on.
However, working out in cold weather does have some cautions to be aware of:
- Dress in layers so that as your body heats up, you can peel off a layer or two to remain at a comfortable body temperature. Otherwise it is easy to get overheated.
- Wear a hat and gloves. Frostbite can be a real issue in cold weather. Covering extremities will prevent it. Don’t forget about your feet by wearing a thick pair of socks.
- Wear sunglasses. Snow blindness is prevalent when out in the snow. If you have ever had it, you already know how uncomfortable it is.
- Wear a scarf over your nose and mouth. Breathing in cold air can cause some respiratory issues, but by breathing through a scarf the air is warmed more before it gets to your lungs.
- Keep hydrated. Even though you may not feel like you are losing water, you are both through perspiration and breathing.
- If you are running or walking, watch where you are going. Avoid stepping on ice if you can. If you must cross it, do so with caution.
Ok, now you have no excuses for not working out in cold weather. Get off your butt and enjoy the cold weather instead of vegging out in front of the TV and eating food that is not good for you, or being cooped up inside a sweaty gym. Enjoy the winter season! (But don’t worry, summertime will be here before you know it!)