Freezing cold temperatures and harsh winds in winter can be intimidating. It's much easier to pound the pavement in the sunshine of summer and spring than opening the door to dreary rain, sleet, or slushy snow. However, that doesn't mean that there aren't amazing benefits to training in the winter.
The Benefits Of Training During Winter
Lose More Weight
Winter weather supercharges an outdoor cardio session. It does this by forcing your body to maximize the caloric burn during your workout.
Your body has to work much harder to regulate your core temperature in the winter. This helps kick your metabolism into overdrive and burn more calories. Combined with a calorie deficit diet, this can be a highly effective weight loss strategy.
Trading fever and body aches for DOMS seems fair, right? It's no secret that as winter rolls in so do cold and flu viruses. Staying fit will not only help you fight the symptoms of these diseases but may also prevent you from getting sick in the first place!
People that maintain regular exercise sessions of 30-60 minutes have a 47-percent reduction in the number of days of illness during the flu season.
At the very least, you'll be exercising self discipline by taking on the tough weather. It takes a certain amount of mental toughness to train consistently under harsh conditions.
Maintain Mental Health
Lacking sun in winter can lead to seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD or the winter blues. Shorter winter days can cause a dip in endorphin levels and make you feel miserable.
One of the best ways to combat depression is to stay active. Yet, this is especially true during winter.
On top of the benefits of the exercise itself, getting outside for a run will encourage you to leave the house during sunlight hours, replenishing your levels of vitamin D and feel-good chemicals in your brain.
Cold ambient temperatures cause your heart to work harder during a workout. That increases the magnitude of effort for your morning run in the cold - you'll get a more intense workout in less time.
Improve Your Personal Best
Consistency with any training is important. Skipping the winter months obviously means your fitness will decline. So, tackling those winter workouts is a fantastic way to build and maintain your body.
You may notice an initial decline in your distance running time during the winter months. This is because your heart must work harder in the cold. However, as you adjust to the cold and improve your cardiovascular health, you could see explosive gains come the warmer months.
Winter Workout Warm-Ups
Despite all the benefits of cold-weather workouts, they increase the chances of hurting yourself.
Your muscles can be tighter in reaction to the cold. The danger of pulling a muscle is amplified by the inclination to push harder to heat your body up. A suitable pre-run warm-up helps to negate the risk of injuring yourself.
It's a good idea to complete some static leg stretches during the winter months. You will need to pay careful attention to any known problem area.
Runners often neglect stretching their back and arms but they are also potential problem areas in cold weather. Make sure you complete a stretch routine before you leave for your run. Especially if you know you like to begin running at a quicker pace.
Dynamic stretches help get your joints ready for intense exercise and stretch your muscles. Conducting a few of these exercises could help prevent a frustrating injury.
Side Leg Swings
Face a wall and press your palms against it with your arms out straight. With your left leg planted, swing your right leg across your body. Repeat for the other side.
Strengthens ankle joints
Stretches hips and outer glutes
Stand tall and keep your trunk as straight as possible throughout the movement. Kick your left leg out high and straight in front and behind you. Repeat for the right leg.
Stretches hip-flexor, quads, and hamstrings
Lift your arms to form a 90-degree angle. Rotate the top half of your body as far as you can slowly in each direction. Keep your legs as still as possible.
Stretches lower back and delts
Warms up shoulder joints
Get Your Lungs Ready
Frigid air rushing into our lungs can be uncomfortable. Winter air can be brutal on your windpipe and lungs especially when you feel gassed.
There are quite a lot of breathing exercises that can help to deal with this problem. The most famous of which is the Wim Hof Method from The Iceman book.
Wim is famous for being able to complete marathons in his underwear at freezing temperatures. He credits his ability to do this through his breathing techniques. It's complex, but you can read more on his website.
Comparing Workouts By Climate
Burns Extra Calories
Increased cardiovascular load
Creates a tough mindset
Higher risk of injury
Requires greater self-discipline
Hazards like black ice and poor visibility
Muscles become loose quicker
Stretching muscles is much easier
Increased muscular workload
Increased risk of dehydration
Potential for heatstroke
Sunscreen can block sweat glands
Climate Controlled Workouts
Best for checking fitness levels as it removes the weather variable
Not ideal for mimicking race conditions
Winter workouts are tough, but you get so much more out of them than a comfortable run in fantastic weather. The cost is worth the gain. You'll thank yourself for the hard work come next spring.
Chris is a writer based in Newcastle, Australia.
He has over 10 years of experience as a teacher and more than 8 as a working musician. He, therefore, has the passion and knowledge to create quality content based on these industries.
Chris has plenty of experience as a general writer too. Having worked on his own affiliate site for over 2 years and writing for several other publications during this time. He also has experience conduction market research and has a thorough understanding of SEO practices.