With cold temperatures and wintry surroundings, it can sometimes be hard to find the motivation to work out during the winter months. However, as long as you are wearing the right clothing, your outdoor cold weather workouts could actually be bringing your body some added benefits.
When exercising outdoors in the cold, your body has to work much harder than usual to maintain its core temperature. This means that you will end up burning much more calories by exercising outdoors, rather than indoors, in the winter. While the increase in calories burned does depend on a number of factors, from the actual temperature to your body mass, this in itself is some great extra motivation to head outdoors rather than be cooped up in the gym.
Strengthening the Heart
The heart distributes blood throughout the body, and in cold temperatures, it has to work harder to do this. Regular exercise in cold temperatures will soon strengthen your heart muscles, which will not only give you the opportunity to try more challenging workouts in the future, but will also do your health so much good in the long run.
Warming Up and Cooling Down
While warming up and cooling down is important no matter the time of the year, you will need to spend more time on this during the winter months, because if your body is cold when you begin working out, you will be much more susceptible to injury. If the weather outside is particularly chilly, there is no reason why you cannot warm up indoors before heading outside for your actual workout.
SAD and Vitamin D
Seasonal affective disorder is most common during the winter months, but exercising outdoors rather than indoors, even if the weather is gloomy, can really make a difference. To top it off, you will also be obtaining your daily dose of vitamin D, which will give your body quite the boost at this time of the year when natural light is limited.
What to Wear for an Outdoor Winter Workout
One of the most common mistakes that people make when dressing for an outdoor winter workout is wearing too many clothes, or wearing an outer layer that is just too restrictive and heavy. Layering is key here, and you should always start with a synthetic base layer, as this will draw moisture away from your body. A middle layer of fleece will then insulate your body, while a waterproof and wind resistant outer layer will keep you protected from the elements. A wool and synthetic blend for your socks is ideal to keep your feet dry, while glove liners will give your hands some extra warmth.
As tempting as it may be to work out in the gym on an especially cold day, or to simply skip your workout altogether, the benefits that the cold weather can bring should not be ignored. From burning extra calories to strengthening the heart to fighting off SAD, an outdoor cold weather workout can really boost your overall health.