Discover the 5 Most Common Exercise Injuries and How to Avoid Them
April 18, 2017

5 Advantages of Exercising in Cold Weather and 3 Potential Dangers

Cold Weather Exercise

It’s easy to come up with excuses to avoid exercise and dieting.

When you’re trying to do something that you don’t enjoy, anything will sound like a better option. So, when the weather gets colder, it’s perfectly natural to use the cold temperatures as an excuse.

You might tell yourself that it’s too cold to go for a jog or too cold to put on your workout clothes and perform a Yoga routine in your living room.

The truth is, these excuses are a way of tricking your mind.

They have no merit. Using the weather is simply a way to get out of your plans. You need to find ways to remain active and not let the weather get you down.

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean that you can’t go for a run or a jog. Here’s 5 advantages of exercising in the cold weather – and 3 potential dangers.

#1 – Cold Weather Helps You Burn More Calories

You’ll burn more calories during a winter jog. The reason is simple. Your body has to work harder in order to maintain its core temperature.

In order to warm and humidify the air that you breathe, your body works harder and burns a few additional calories.

Some of this could be offset by the fact that you sweat less. You can boost the overall benefit of the cold weather by bundling up and dressing appropriately.

#2 – You Can Improve Your Heart Health

Working out in the cold weather can also lead to better heart health. The cold weather forces your heart to work harder to distribute blood. Though, this reason also means that you need to use caution when exercising in the winter.

If you have a history of heart problems or suffer from poor heart health, this additional stress can be taxing on your body. But, for otherwise healthy individuals, you can use the cold weather to strengthen your heart.

Your heart is a muscle and benefits from a little additional exercise. With regular cardiovascular exercise, you can make your heart muscle stronger.

#3 – You Will Remember to Warm Up Before Your Workout

Skipping your warm up can increase your chances of injury. This warm up loosens your limbs and warms your muscles. Warming your muscles before a workout also helps increase the effectiveness of the exercise for muscle development.

When you work out in the cold weather, you’ll be more likely to remember your warm up. As soon as you step outside into the cold, you’ll naturally start moving around. This gets your body temperature rising and prepares you for the cold.

If you’re just getting started with a regular workout routine, this will help you get in the habit of warming up. When the warmer temperatures come, you’ll already be in the habit of stretching out and loosening up before working out.

#4 – You Can Still Get Your Vitamin D

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean that there isn’t the sunshine. You can still benefit from jogging or running on a sunny day during the winter. You’ll still get your vitamin D and the mood boost provided by a little sunshine.

#5 – You Will Be Happier After Your Winter Workout

All of the previous advantages add up to create this last benefit of working out in the cold. You’ll be happier.

When your body has to work harder to stay warm, you’ll also produce more endorphins. These endorphins lift your mood and leave you feeling energized after your workout. When you get back home and peel off your winter gear, you’ll be prepared for whatever comes next – instead of crashing on the couch.

The 3 Biggest Dangers of Exercising in Cold Weather

Generally, working out in the cold is perfectly safe. But, there are a few dangers that you need to pay attention to:

  • Hypothermia
  • Frostbite
  • Increased risk of heart attack

Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Up to 50% of lost heat can escape from your head. So, make sure that you dress appropriately.

You should start with your base layer. Wear moisture-wicking clothing to keep the sweat away from your skin. This will keep you dry during your jog.

The middle layer should help insulate. Cotton sweats are a good choice. They offer insulation to keep you warm without blocking circulation. The outer layer should help block the wind and repel water, such as a nylon material.

If it’s cold enough, frostbite could also be a threat. The first areas to suffer are your extremities. This includes your nose, ears, fingers, and toes. Don’t let your socks get wet. Make sure that you have a good pair of shoes and clean socks.

For your ears and nose, a full-face mask, hood, scarf, or other headgear can provide enough protection. You may also want to wear a pair of gloves to keep your fingers warm.

Breathing can be more difficult in the cold weather. Your blood pressure and heart rate will increase, your airway narrows, and breathing can be more difficult. This is another danger of cold weather exercise.

As mentioned, if you have a history of heart problems, then you could be at an increased risk of heart attack while working out in the cold weather. Also, anyone that suffers from Asthma should consider consulting their doctor first.

Make Sure That You Stay Hydrated

It’s also essential that you keep yourself hydrated. The air is drier in the cold weather. When breathing in the cold air, your body needs to warm and humidify the air. This takes water away from the body, which means you need to pay attention to your hydration.

Make sure that you drink fluids before, during, and after your workout.

As a final precaution, you should be prepared to pause and rest at any point during your workout. If you start to feel winded, exhausted or experience any discomfort, you should take a break. Catch your breath and take a sip of water.

Working out in the winter can be beneficial, but there are also a few dangers. If you pay attention to these issues, dress appropriately, and stay hydrated, you can continue to focus on your health all year long.

Don’t let the weather keep you stuck indoors. You’ll be more tempted to sit on the couch and veg out. So, bundle up and get out there.

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