9 Amazing Winter Workout Benefits
Don't let the harsh winter chill keep you from a workout – use it to maximize your gains. Here's what's cool about winter workouts.
Science hints that the bone-chilling weather may actually further with our weight loss efforts. And it may actually be the best way to condition our bodies to work harder when we train.
Continue reading to learn how to make the best use of the winter break.
Shedding and Sledding | the Wonders of a Winter Workout
1. Shed the Holiday Weight
Snowflakes and Jack Frost brings along with them the holiday spirit. And this holiday spirit smells a lot like turkey in November and plenty of pot roast and dessert on December. With all the gatherings and reunions at the dinner table, it's understandably difficult to maintain let alone lose some holiday weight.
Then by January, we're seeing a peak in gym goers pumping iron to sweat out all the egg nog from the holiday parties.
It's widely accepted that to lose weight, we need to burn more calories than we intake. So make a trip to the gym in between the parties.
It may help you get your calorie deficit and may even make room for pot roast for the next party.
2. No Sweat Winter Workout
Some may not a fan of running because sweating makes you feel uncomfortable. This makes winter the perfect time to get into running.
Run a marathon without breaking a sweat. Wear warm clothes that you can move freely in and jog along a picturesque route. With the beauty of crisp white snow decorating everything it touches, it may even help you forget the fatigue.
Run just long and hard enough to get your heart pumping. On the way back home, an enjoyable brisk walk will do.
3. Gets You Outdoors
The primary enemy of health and fitness is a sedentary lifestyle. When you pair this with holiday eating, you're brewing a recipe for weight gain along with that egg nog.
While it's nice to stay at home with a hot cup of cocoa and Santa's cookies, the winter also brings more things to do outside.
Run around in the snow and make snow angels with the kids. Anything to get you outside really. Go sledding with your family and run back to the top of the hill and make it a workout.
Treat your holiday shopping like a cardio session and take advantage of it to log you 10,000 steps.
You may burn calories just by standing than sitting down. Now standing in line at the store doesn't sound too bad, does it?
Burn more than logs by the fireplace this winter.
4. Fight Winter Tiredness
The days are short and the nights are long.
With less sun exposure, your melatonin levels may rise. As a result, you may feel more sleepy and tired in the middle of the day.
Melatonin is also known as the sleep hormone that signals to the body when it's time to hit the hay.
A winter workout will force you out of the house and under the sun. This may let your body know that it's not yet time for your lids to fall. It may stave off drowsiness and keep you awake throughout the day.
5. Kicks Things up a Notch
The snow makes for a great ornate landscape and a stage for some of the best winter sports.
A trick to staying motivated to hit the gym – that crucial first step to getting fit – is to keep things interesting. Repeating the same routine is a sure-fire way to bore you and wear you down. You'll have grown tired of your program before you've hit your first fitness goal.
Surf the waves in the summer and the snow-capped mountain in the winter. Go hiking in the spring and mountain biking in the winter. You'll have something to look forward to every season and it will motivate you to stay active.
6. May Turn Bad Fat to Good Fat
There are two types of fat in the body – white fat and brown fat.
The white fat stores energy in our body and makes us weighty, especially in the abdominal area. Then there's brown fat that, when activated or stimulated, burns calories.
Brown fat is more common in infants and less so in adults. How much brown fat we carry also varies for each person. It may be higher for leaner people, but it's not yet clear why.
Growing scientific literature finds that when we exercise and are exposed to the shivering temperatures (say 12°C), our body secrets irisin. When irisin (hormone) is released into the body, it converts white fat into brown fat.
Even in resting position, we may produce irisin given the temperature is shivering.
Although irisin is produced during exercise, it may not follow that exercising in the cold will produce twice as much of the hormone. Still, it may be a good idea to schedule a day out in the snow with just the right amount of cold weather gear on your rest days.
The takeaway – it may actually pay to be a couch potato (in the shivering cold that is).
7. May Increase Basal Metabolic Rate Without Doing Anything
Our body has its own mechanisms and processes to protect itself from the cold.
It works to create an internal furnace in the form of energy expenditure to shield ourselves from the cold and works to protect our vital organs.
Our metabolic rate is at its lowest between 20° – 30°, but increases when it gets colder in an attempt to warm the body.
Again, we find that by not doing much we can already achieve plenty.
By taking advantage of this theory, we may be able to come out of the winter even fitter than before.
8. May Keep the Winter Blues at Bay
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is more common in the winter than in the warmer seasons. So don't be alarmed when you're in a more depressed state during the cold season. Winter depression is cyclical and recurring.
Some research finds that exercise and exposure to light may help combat this seasonal depression.
Serotonin is the hormone that regulates our mood and appetite among other things.
A study found that serotonin levels may actually be lower in the colder months than in sunnier seasons. This may be because sunlight helps activate the production of serotonin in the skin.
This winter, bring your workout outside, getting some much-needed sun and serotonin.
9. May Put You in a Better Mood
Ever thought of heading to your local pool during the winter? You will now.
A 2004 Finland study found that swimming regularly in the winter decreased fatigue and tension and a marked improvement in mood and memory.
After the four-month study, the subjects also felt more energetic and brisk. It was also said to have helped relieve pain in those suffering from asthma, rheumatism, or fibromyalgia.
The researchers purport that this may have the same as cryotherapy used by many athletes.
If you were looking for a new sport to indulge in this season – winter swimming may be it. Just make sure to follow it up with a hot soak in the sauna.
This isn't to say that you should just go out into the cold in your reindeer pajamas. While there may be scientific benefits to working out in cold, there is still such thing as too cold. Keep your body warm enough during the winter and prepare well before a workout.
Keep your gloves on and wrap yourself in a fleece-lined coat on top of your compression gear. Weight gain and Santa's belly need not be inevitable.
Now go take a jog in a winter wonderland.
What are your go-to exercises during the winter? Let us know in the comments section below.
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