Now that the weather is getting colder and colder by day, you’re probably already planning how you’ll hibernate in the gym all winter long. Working out in cold weather sounds like such a bad idea… but is it?
There are a few recent studies – some still under research – which indicate that working out in cold weather actually has some pretty amazing benefits on your health. So if you enjoy working out outside, there might still be hope you can do it and double the benefits.
Before we get started, I want to highlight that things such appropriate equipment, moderation and taking into consideration different health conditions are critical to not damage your health.
Lose weight faster
If your goal is to lose weight and get that “summer body” as fast as possible, you’re in luck! The cold weather might help.
According to a study developed by Cell Metabolism, shivering burns fat. A “quick” 10-15 minutes session of shivering is said to burn as many calories as a one hour of moderate workout. According to the study, this works for temperatures between 4 and 15 degrees C.
While you’re working out, your body tries to keep a normal temperature through sweating.
Since you’ll be already in quite a chilly environment, your body won’t have to focus so much on adjusting your body temperature, says this study. Free of the sweating issue, your body can focus on something else, and that something else seems to be increased performance for your muscles.
Improved mental health
A small study from 2004 indicates that swimming in cold water can improve things such as fatigue, negative mindset and tension.
After four months throughout the research, subjects reported that they felt less stressed, tensed and they were happier overall. Half of the subjects were diagnosed with one of the conditions.
We already know that working out helps improving mental health but apparently working out in cold environments, such as swimming in cold water also helps.
Get some vitamin D
Even though it’s freaking freezing, it doesn’t mean the sun is not present.
While the UV index is fairly low and the sun exposure risks are quite minimal, the UV rays still go through the clouds, which can help you get some of the vitamin D.
During winter, the sunlight is already very limited, which usually makes us less energetic. Getting that vitamin D is more than welcomed. Please remember you still have to use SPF (yes, even during winter) if your skin is exposed for more than 15 minutes or so.
Reduce risk of disease
According to the “shivering study” mentioned above, our bodies burn the “bad fat” and turns it in “brown fat”.
It might not sound too flattering, but the “brown fat” is actually the good guy. The study showed that this type of fast helped reduce risk of diabetes and obesity on animals.
Even if the tests are showing good results on animals so far, it’s highly likely that these benefits could apply to the human body as well.
Last but not least
There are promising studies and results that indicate that working out in cold weather can be beneficial. But please don’t let yourself carried away by these preliminary results.
Further research can prove that the benefits are not so good for us in the end. So before starting to work out in cold like a maniac, please go see your GP and ask him about this. He knows your health history, so he’s the best to advise you and to tell you the risks as well and if it would be safe for you to try it or not. Don’t believe the studies and articles right away, check with your doctor too.
Related: How to Avoid Catching a Cold or Flu
One of the major risks of working out in cold weather is lung trauma. So special equipment is required to make sure you will actually get the health benefits and not the drawbacks.
Have you ever tried working out in cold weather? How was it for you? Please let me know in the comments!