When the temperature drops outside, it makes a lot of us feel like hibernating indoors and waiting it out till sunny and longer days return. Exercise will usually take a back seat but if you decide to brave the cold and leave the electric heater behind you will soon find training in cold weather can bring plenty of benefits to not just your body but your mind too.
In some ways, winter can offer benefits you don’t get in summer. For instance, cold weather may actually improve endurance, says Dr. Tenforde. “In colder temperatures, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard, you sweat less, and expend less energy, all of which means you can exercise more efficiently.”
Studies also have shown that exercising in cold weather can transform white fat, specifically belly and thigh fat, into calorie-burning brown fat.
Plus, “winter workouts help you get exposure to sunlight, which may help ward off seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that some people experience during the winter months. While cold-weather exercise is safe for most people, if you have certain conditions, such as asthma or heart problems, check with your doctor to review any special precautions you need to take based on your condition or medications”.
When the temperatures turn cold, the last thing you probably want to do is leave your couch to work out. But that’s exactly what you should do to help your body and mind function at their best. Exercise is undoubtedly one of the best ways to beat the winter blues. Don’t believe us? Here’s how using your home fitness equipment, heading to your local gym, or heading outside for some physical activity can help you feel better all season long.
- You’ll have more energy to spare
Once winter rolls around, the daylight hours start to dwindle. That alone can make it difficult to leave your warm bed in the morning or feel productive past 4 pm. But if you’ve made a commitment to fitness this winter, you’ll probably find that you have tons more energy than usual. You’ll likely sleep better at night and wake feeling more rested and ready to tackle the day. Instead of turning to sugar and caffeine during your daily slump, you can turn to your home fitness equipment for a natural energy boost. That’ll definitely come in handy when the holidays roll around or when every member of the family has a different schedule to keep track of. You may even find you’re able to cut down on your multiple cups of coffee as a result!
- You’ll stay warm
Around 53% of U.S. adults over the age of 18 meet the aerobic physical activity guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But if a higher percentage of us decided to get moving, we’d probably stay a lot warmer on these cold winter days. When you use gym equipment or go for a run, you’ll get your blood pumping and will work up a sweat. That can eliminate the need to crank up the heat as high when you’re at home, which could ultimately save you quite a bit on energy bills. You might also not to supplement with sugary hot drinks or warm, fattening foods as often to stay toasty. Plus, you’ll probably just be in a better mood when you aren’t freezing your little toes off.
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- You’ll work off your holiday eating
Speaking of sugar and fat… there’s a lot of it that pops up during this time of year. While some of it is unavoidable to a certain extent, you can feel a lot better about your eating habits when you’re staying active. Of course, working out at the gym or at home doesn’t mean you should throw all caution to the wind. But it does mean that you’re in the process of making healthy habits that can allow you to adopt “everything in moderation” as your mantra. If you’ve already started working out regularly, you may even find that you don’t want to fill up on treats quite as much as you used to — simply because you’re more aware of the hard work required to burn off the calories. Wouldn’t it be great if you actually improved your health over the holidays?
- You can combat seasonal depression
If you have a seasonal affective disorder or you tend to feel blue around this time of year, winter can pack an emotional wallop. But one of the most effective ways to gain control of your mental health is through physical activity. If you use your home fitness equipment at least a few times a week, you’ll release hormones that can help alleviate stress and anxiety and will make you feel a lot more positive. You may not look forward to your workout, but we bet you’ll love how you feel after the endorphin rush!
- You’ll boost your immune system
Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine can amp up your immune system and avoid illnesses. Studies have actually found that moderate exercise can allow the body to fight off colds more efficiently. There’s nothing worse than being sick in bed or trying to get through work when you feel miserable. But if you devote yourself to exercising regularly, get ample sleep, and eat nutrient-rich foods, you’ll be in the pink of health for the foreseeable future.
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