By Kelly E. Morrison
People gain weight from November to January. It’s inevitable. The turkey, gravy, stuffing, pumpkin pie and Christmas pudding add up to serious calories. Unfortunately, a combination of increased food intake and the hideous winter temperatures equals less exercising and a larger number on the scale.
It’s undoubtedly harder to work out when the temperatures drop. Luckily, exercising outside in the cold can be good for you. First, if you stay inside all winter without working out, you are more likely to get sick. While germs that make you sick circulate year round, your contact with sickness is limited during the summer when people are constantly moving in and out; however, according to the University of Chicago Medicine, during the colder months, when people stay indoors, the rate of infection increases and your chances of infecting/catching sickness rise. Exercising, no matter the season, boots your immune system. Second, working out in the winter can be more effective:
- The colder temperatures encourage you to keep moving to stay warm, helping you burn more calories.
- Cold weather makes it more difficult for your heart to distribute blood throughout your body. Regular cold-weather exercise sessions can make your heart even stronger and prep you for more strenuous workouts later.
- Exercising in the cold elements can help you feel happier. Your body has to work harder to stay warm, meaning that your body produces more endorphins. Post-workout feelings include happiness and lightness.
- Exercise in the winter increases your energy levels, which tend to be lower during bouts of cold and gloomy weather.
So, how do you stay active outside in the winter time? Here are five tips:
1.) Buy the gear
The athletic apparel industry has prepared for this season they call “winter.” Hats, gloves, and scarves are available with absorbent technologies that transfer the sweat from your skin to the outside of the gear, keeping you dry—because no one wants to be exercising in the freezing cold with your sweat turning to icicles.
2.) Dress appropriately
Think about it, once you get started in your workout and you’re sweating up a storm, the three layers of sweaters that you piled on are going to get heavy and trap your sweat. A good rule of thumb: dress like it is about 20 degrees warmer than it is.
3.) Be smart
If there is ice on the roads, don’t run near it or close to it. If you slip and fall, your broken ankle/leg/hip is going to deter your exercising for months rather than the one day you could have taken off.
4.) Warm up
Consider doing your warm up inside. Do a quick five minute jog inside, a series of jumping jacks, or a core routine. Once your body is warmed up, it’ll take less time for you to adjust to the cold temps and you can just go.
5.) Protect yourself
A quick tip: apply moisturizer to your face and neck before you run, it will prevent your skin from becoming itchy or dry post-run. Wear two pairs of socks instead of one. Lastly, make sure your running shoes have decent traction. The treads on older running shoes wear down and can increase your chances of slipping.
Exercising in the winter (while very little fun and a lot of extra effort) has its benefits. First, you can eat all the holiday foods you want and justify it by reminding yourself that you ran that morning. Second, you will be on track to beat the common cold that will inevitably circulate. Third, after exercising, you can curl up inside with your hot tea and binge watch your favorite show with no guilt.
Kelly was born and raised in Virginia, where she currently lives with her rescued pup, Anna and fiancé. She loves frozen Hershey’s bars, Netflix, running, and playing with new technology. Her best friends are her over-sized giraffe stuffed animal and her sass, which never leaves her side.