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The benefits of exercising in cold weather

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Temperatures are set to plummet for the next few days as the ‘Beast from the East’ takes hold over East Anglia. Staying motivated to get your exercise session completed can be tricky. When it is cold weather, the last thing you want to do is step outside in your running gear or set off for an exercise circuit around the local park. A lot of evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, that says that exercising in cold weather is really beneficial.

Exercising in cold weather is okay to do

The first point to make is that, in the correct clothing and footwear, exercising in cold weather is completely fine to do. People do get concerned about getting sweaty in chilly conditions. The answer is to wear moisture-wicking fabrics so your body will stay at a healthy temperature. This allows the body to function as it would in any other workout environment.

Footwear obviously needs to suit the conditions and you may need to run slower, but you can always compensate by running for longer or adding some circuit type activities to your run.

So, motivation levels restored, here are five reasons why exercising outdoors in the cold is good for you.

1. You will feel happier and more energised

At this time of year, we spend a large proportion of our time in stuffy, air-conditioned offices or homes. Getting outside, exercising in cold weather and raising your heart rate will boost your mood. The fact your body has to work a little harder to stay warm means you are producing more endorphins than normal. Post workout you will feel a great sense of happiness, release and lightness.

2. You will remember the benefit of warm up and cool down routines

Making sure the body is loose and ready for a run is vital when it is very cold outside. Warming up and cooling down are aspects of our work out that we often skip but these are really important if you are to avoid sprains, strains and tears. The warm-up will prepare your body and your lungs for exercising in the cold air while a cool down will reduce tightness as your body cools quicker than during the warmer months.

3. Your exercise session will take on a different perspective.

Exercising in cold weather conditions will add a variety to your workout and a different emphasis. Rather than seeking the quickest time or the fastest sprint, you can look to hit different goals. These can be: increased effort levels, longer exercise sessions or a change of route. A wise coach of mine called this a ‘smell the roses’ workout. You experience different sensations because you have altered your pace and your perspective.

4. You will strengthen your heart

Exercising in cold weather makes the heart work harder to distribute blood around the body. Someone who regularly exercises will benefit from the additional workload presented by the cold weather. This will act as preparation for strenuous exercise sessions in the warmer part of the year. (NOTE – this is not recommended for someone with any heart issues.)

5. You will burn more calories

The body woks harder in the cold to regulate its core temperature. This means you burn more calories on a wintry workout compared to a workout in warmer conditions. Calorie burn will vary with each person’s body mass but this is a good way to motivate yourself to take on the wintry conditions.

Of course, if all of this fails to inspire you to step outside, then the Outlooks Gym at Kelsey Kerridge is the perfect place to get all your exercise sessions completed in a lovely warm environment!

NOTE: If you are suffering poor health or have underlying health conditions, consult your doctor or get medical advice before embarking on an exercise programme that involves exercising in cold weather.