When the temperature drops, it’s only natural to want to stay inside, warm and rugged up. However, there are several physical and mental health benefits to exercising outdoors in cold weather.
1. Boost your immunity
Regular exercise boosts your immune system, reducing the likelihood of you falling ill with a winter cold or flu. Research from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicate a few minutes of exercise a day can help prevent simple bacterial and viral infections.
Outdoor exercise in the cold will mean your immune system works harder and is more prepared to fight off foreign invaders and their nasty symptoms. According to a study by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, regular outdoor exercise in the cold can reduce the risk of flu by 20-30%.
2. Burn calories
When temperatures drop, your body works much harder to keep its core temperature regulated. When the body works to keep warm, such as tensing, shaking or shivering, the metabolism goes into overdrive, burning more calories. In fact, studies have shown people can expend five times more energy when shivering, compared to when they are resting.
3. Boost your mood
Working out in the winter can help fight Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression that occurs during times of year where there is less sunlight such as autumn and winter.
Being outside and getting more sunlight during the day helps keep your mind sharp and relieves depression as well as increasing your body’s ability to produce Vitamin D. And don’t let those grey skies fool you. Even cloudy days offer exposure to mood-enhancing sunlight.
4. New exercise opportunities
The winter weather gives you the opportunity to try activities you may not have considered before. From skiing and snow-laden mountain trekking to brisk walks along a wintry beach, cold weather exercise will mean your body needs to shift and adjust to use different muscles, which in turn will help build strength and endurance.
5. Increase your performance
Cold temperatures create stress for the body. By adding cold weather to your usual exercise routine, your body has to work harder, strengthening your heart, lungs and circulatory system and ultimately improving your overall health.