Surprise: it’s the winter and it’s cold in most of the country. It seems like it was just yesterday that I wrote about how to manage outdoor workouts during the scorching summer heat. How quickly we forget the sweltering sizzling summer this time of year as we bundle up, trudge through the snow, slush and ice, and try our best to manage winter storms and frigid temps.
It's almost instinctive for many of us to take on a less active lifestyle to cope with the winter freeze. Evolution has led bears, bats, and skunks to go into the seasonal deep sleep known as hibernation to get through the winter when finding food is most challenging for them. Humans don't have the luxury of sleeping through a season, but many are tempted to stay in, watch Netflix, and enjoy the comfort of a warm home, while cutting back on their outdoor workouts.
Here are 5 Reasons for Outdoor Winter Workouts:
1. Get a Better Workout
There’s a reason we hesitate before exercising when it’s very cold: it’s a lot harder on our bodies than when the weather is comfortable. Our circulatory systems must work harder to move blood throughout the body. Over time, exercising in the cold increases cardiovascular endurance for improved athletic performance during all seasons. Battling the elements also requires our bodies to regulate their core temperatures, which burns more calories.
2. It Will Get Better
Just like working out for the first time in weeks is intimidating and leads to an unusual amount of soreness afterwards, getting outside for that first frigid workout is tough. However, each individual workout becomes easier as we warm up and become accustomed to the temperature. Over time, winter workouts become more comfortable as we build up a tolerance for colder routines.
3. Improve Your Warm-up
It’s easier to skimp on stretching and warming up when it’s 60 degrees outside, as most of us love getting out there to run, bike, and train. When it’s 10 degrees, a proper warm-up is mandatory, and it’s hard to forget. Alena Hall, Associate Editor of Third Metric at The Huffington Post says, “Winter workouts will encourage you to become a pro when it comes to full warm-up and cool-down routines, the former to keep your internal body temperature elevated, and the latter to reduce unnecessary tightness inspired by the chill in the air.”
4. Get Some Vitamin D
Vitamin D, considered very important for bone health, is naturally present in few foods. According to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 30-50% of Americans are vitamin D deficient. Even though it’s cold, getting outside during the daytime exposes us to sunlight, which is a great natural source of vitamin D. Just remember to apply sunscreen, as we are still susceptible to harmful sun rays when it’s freezing, and, contrary to what some fear, sunscreen does not prevent our bodies from producing vitamin D.
5. Be Happy
We know exercise improves our mood and reduces stress. When it’s cold, our moods can suffer more than normally. Exercising in the cold produces more endorphins because our bodies are working harder to moderate their temperature. The results are happier and calmer moods after working out.
As the saying goes, “‘Wow. I really regret that workout,’ said no one ever.” This is even truer when it’s super-cold out. Getting out and starting is the hardest part.
We'd love to hear from you. What are your favorite outdoor workouts during the winter months? Comment below or on our Facebook page at facebook.com/flytefitness, or tweet us at @flytefitness.
Be Flyte Fit,
Co-Founder & CEO