Winter Workouts: Why the Chilly Outdoor Air is Good for Us
When the temperatures drop and our nose hairs freeze within minutes of leaving the house, it can be difficult to find the motivation to get outside and exercise. But, as we'll outline below, outdoor winter workouts are really good for us. Keep these tidbits in mind when you're on the couch dreading the thought of venturing beyond the bounds of your heated home. Plus, there are so many winter activities that are not only great workouts but are super fun! Read all the way to the bottom to see what you can do to break a sweat during the snowy season.
Burn, baby, burn: When the weather is chilly, your body burns more calories trying to maintain your bodily temperature. Our resting metabolism goes up to keep us warm. While these extra calories aren't a huge amount (no, you won't see a 5 pound difference after one winter run), every little bit helps! Exercising in shiver-inducing temperatures will burn more calories than if you stayed indoors and ran on a treadmill.
Beat the winter blues: Seasonal affective disorder (also known as the very appropriate acronym: SAD) is when people who have normal mental health throughout the year have symptoms of depression during the colder months. And since exercise releases endorphins, which make us feel happier, then it's no surprise that winter activity can beat the winter blues! Additionally, getting Vitamin D from sunshine is hard to come by in winter, so when you exercise outside you're maximizing your chances of sun exposure. Win-win!
Avoid the germy gym: In winter, some of us change our exercise routines from an outdoor jog to an indoor one on a treadmill. But gyms are great places for the spread of germs (ahem, sweaty guy who never wipes down the equipment, we're looking at you!) and the potential to get sick is pretty high, especially considering as winter is cold and the flu bug is highly prevalent. It might be a good idea to avoid the sweaty, indoor setting and adjust your workout to be in the great outdoors.
Here are some ideas of outdoor activities that you can incorporate into your winter workouts:
- Downhill skiing/snowboarding
- Cross-country skiing
- Skating (check out your city's website for a list of outdoor rinks!)
- Tobogganing (traditionally a kid's activity, but come on, it's fun! Plus, lugging your sled uphill is a great calorie burner)
- Jogging/running (just make sure you have appropriate footwear for slippery surfaces)
- Shovelling (ok, this one isn't super fun, but it is necessary and when you think of it as a workout, it isn't so bad!)
- Build a snow fort! Have a snowball fight! While you're at it, build a snow man!
- Rent a fat bike and hit the trails (not as common as skiing, but seriously fun)