Some things are just harder to embrace than others. A shift in leadership at work. When your gym starts stocking a less-than-stellar protein powder. Hitting the pavement for your morning miles when the mercury starts to dip. We get it: no guy wants to freeze their buns off in the name of a buff physique. But getting after it in the cooler months can have a slew of total-body benefits.
“Keeping up with a typical workout routine can be extremely difficult in the winter,” says Rhys Athayde, trainer at The Dogpound. “The sun rises later and sets sooner, naturally your body begins to store more fat, and the food is fantastic during Christmas, which makes it a lot easier to gain a few extra pounds this season.”
Extra pounds? No thanks. Here are four reasons to embrace cold weather workouts (aside from staving off that seasonal weight gain).
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1. Your Metabolism Is Fired-Up
When you’re in chillier temperatures, your body works harder to regulate core temperature, says Dale Collins, MS, CSCS, exercise physiologist for the Department of Defence. “The body has to expend additional energy to stay warm, so exercising in the cold yields a higher caloric expenditure. This has a particular effect on brown fat cells (an energy-burning fat commonly found in athletes and those with a high lean muscle ratio).”
Granted, the calories burned varies with each person’s body mass and temperatures. One 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism revealed that people have more genetic markers for brown fat in the winter, which could signal slightly more calorie burn in the winter as the body insulates itself.
2. Get Essential Vitamin D
It’s normal to spend less time outside come winter. The issue? It’s easy to quickly become Vitamin D deficient. Even when it’s cold, getting outside for a sweat can help you get in the recommended 1,000 to 2,000s IUs recommended each day, says Dennis Cardone, DO, chief of primary care sports medicine at NYU Langone Health. The catch: putting on sunscreen (important!) can reduce the amount of Vitamin D you ultimately absorb. Make sure to apply if you’re going to be spending more than 10 minutes in the sun.
3. You’ll Pick Up The Pace
You don’t want to be out there longer than you have to be, right? Well good news: a brisk chill can actually make you move faster. Research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that race times are faster in cold weather than in warmer temperatures. An added benefit? Speedier runs burn more calories. Winner.
4. You’ll Be Happier
We’ve all know that exercise makes you happy because it gives you so many endorphins. But in the winter, there are a slew of factors that make it important to prioritise that weekend long run around the park. Seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons, is high in the winter time. Staying active can help to provide you with a necessary mood boost that’ll last you through March.
“We know that people ultimately will feel better with movement because of the hormone surge,” says Cardone. “That feeling of accomplishment is great. Making time for movement is essential.”