It’s cold out there, miserable, with sub-zero temperatures. The last thing you want to do is brave the cold and exercise especially when there’s the ever looming danger of snow threatening to bring the country to a standstill. But did you know that training in the cold actually boosts your endurance and keeps you happy through winter? So with a little motivation there’s no reason why we can’t all ignore the Siberian temperatures and win our own cold war. And if you need more than motivation, here’s some facts to help you along the way.
Burn more calories
If you’re carrying more fat than is necessary to survive the winter months, then the good news is that the falling temperatures will help you shed it faster. Calorie burn is higher in the cold as the body has to expend more energy to stay warm. So swap the treadmill for the great outdoors for a leaner physique.
Activate your brown fat
Make the childhood favourite skipping rope your friend. After warming up your limbs with arm and leg circles, skip as fast as you can for one minute and then rest for 30 seconds. Build this routine up to around 20 minutes – or until you trip over! This type of exercise activates your brown fat which helps you burn more calories from your lard stores. Very handy when you need to burn off those mince pies.
Defence against colds and flu
Staying active during the winter is a great way to keep colds and flu at bay. Research shows that working up a sweat can help cut your risk of catching flu by 20-30%. Just remember to wear layers when you venture out so you don’t seize up during the warming up stage. Extra clothing will keep your muscles warm and ensure that you won’t overheat and you can easily start peeling them off as you get warmer.
Christmas shopping, all those late nights partying, plus trying to keep awake on the day job can lead to a lot of stress. But according to boffins at University of Hull, exposure to cold water can wash away stress. A cold shower first thing in the morning can do the trick. But for those wanting a real challenge can find an outdoor swimming club. As well as reducing stress, cold water will increase your body’s circulation.
Winter blues thawed
This fact by far gets me going. Dark mornings, shorter days with darkness setting in as early as half past 3 in the afternoon, gives a lot of people the winter blues. That’s because levels of feel good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine in your brain drop in the winter. But a good old cardio workout can top up the good feeling hormones. So put on your gym gear and do a 30 minute aerobic circuit session to keep the winter blues at bay. Squat jumps, press up, sprints and lunges are all good.
So no matter how hard that icy north wind blows, there’s no reason why you can’t keep on top of the weather. Happy training! 🙂