Why it’s so good to exercise in winter - 6 reasons you should brave the cold

Winter is here and it’s starting to get cold, really cold and when it’s cold it’s harder to stay motivated about your health and fitness!! Winter brings with it crisper mornings, increased illness and flu, winter blues and hibernation. We tend to take on a “Snuggle Up” mentality, we eat more and we do less. It is an inherent hibernation tactic dating decades back, however, in this day and age, we don’t need to stockpile for the season ahead.

Exercise in winter can provide more benefit than exercise during the rest of the year because it specifically answers our winter body needs in the way that summer can’t. So read on to hear our 6 top tips as to why you might consider getting up, showing up, training your way through the winter months and looking after your body when it needs it most.

Boost Immunity

If you only need one reason to keep your training up in winter this could be it. The winter months often mean an increase in illness, colds and flu. A cold is the last thing you have time for when you are trying to stick to your workout routine. Boosting your body’s immunity naturally means you’ll have a much better chance at coasting through the winter months and staying free of that cold everyone else in the office passes around. Exercise strengthens our body’s ability to work at peak levels and strengthens the immune system helping to ward off everything from the common cold to nasty strains of flu. Some studies have suggested that regular exercise in the colder months may reduce your susceptibility to cold and flu viruses by up to 30%

Beat the winter blues

As the days get shorter and daylight levels decrease, our natural levels of oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins ie our “feel-good” hormones in the brain also fall. This is commonly known as SADs (seasonal affective disorder). The mood-enhancing benefits of exercise are well documented and it can boost your mood at any time of year, but it has a particularly profound effect during winter, sending those important feel-good hormones soaring, and keeping the winter blues at bay. It can also provide a much-needed break from the daily grind and help to reduce stress levels.

Burn more calories

There is conflicting research on this one, but whilst all exercise and athletic endeavors boost metabolism, think of your wintertime workouts as a supercharged version of your normal sweat sessions. The body is forced to expend additional energy to maintain its core temperature when it is colder. Because your metabolism is already increased, exercise in the colder weather leads to higher calorie expenditure and increased burning of fat stores. Once you are sufficiently warmed up you will also be able to push yourself harder than you would with the extra strains of high temperatures, sticky humidity and excess sweat and risk of dehydration that come with the summer months.

Great cardiovascular workout

Training in the cold is an excellent way to boost your cardiovascular system. Just like a lot of other bodily systems, your cardiovascular system is forced to work harder in colder conditions. The heart has to work harder to pump blood around the body due to constricted blood vessels in the extremities caused by the cold. Training during the colder seasons is great for increasing your cardiovascular fitness and promoting good circulation in the body which in turn promotes healthy blood flow keeping you warmer for longer after your workout has stopped.

Increasing Intensity is less difficult

Having a hard time progressing with your intensity? Winter might just provide the best time to go above and beyond. Whether you like to walk, run, or ride, the heat and humidity of summer can make it pretty difficult to up your intensity or distance. Winter, on the other hand, makes it a lot easier to handle since you aren’t subject to the same environmental stresses. So if setting yourself personal bests, or you like to crunch numbers then take note of your performance in the winter months. You may just reach some goals you haven't been able to during summer.

You’ll maintain your fitness

It can be hard to keep your motivation high, and if reading the above hasn’t convinced you enough, then keep in mind this last point. Come spring, if you have kept up a regular training routine over the colder months your body will be in a much better position to continue on. We are never training for our “summer body”, that is something that is so far from what we preach here at TBHF - We are training for ourselves in 10 years, 20 years, 30 years time, etc. If you think about your fitness in terms of years, not weeks you are much more likely to keep on track and trust me when we say your body will thank you for it.

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