Weight loss exercise: Seven reasons why cold weather workouts can benefit your health

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WEIGHT loss through exercise can be difficult at this time of year with the shorter days and cooler temperatures, but working out in cold weather can actually benefit your health in a number of ways.

By Katrina Turrill

It’s true what they say, summer bodies are made in the winter, but at this time of year it can be difficult to find the motivation to exercise, especially if you’re a fan of keeping fit in the great outdoors.

But cold weather workouts offer multiple health benefits, so there really should be no excuse.

Training specialist David Wiener, from leading fitness app Freeletics shares his seven reasons why training outdoors in the cold can boost your health, and fitness levels.

You’ll burn more calories

In the cold weather, the body works harder to regulate its core temperature, meaning that you’ll automatically burn more calories, in comparison to an indoor workout, according to David.

Previous research published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise also found that race times are faster in cold weather, so you may even perform better too.

You’ll strengthen your heart and boost endurance

Cold weather makes the heart work harder to distribute blood throughout the body. For an unhealthy heart that struggles to manage the additional stress, this process can exacerbate illness and injury, says David. But a regular exerciser with cardiovascular endurance can make their heart muscle even stronger by exercising in the cold, better preparing the body for more strenuous workouts in the future, and life in general.

He explained: “The colder conditions experienced over the winter season mean our body’s cardiovascular and respiratory systems will kick into a higher gear, and over time we become stronger and fitter because of it. As endurance can decrease with age, illness or injury, you can consider the winter months a time to back up and enhance your endurance levels.

You’ll feel happier and more energised

David said: “Training in the great outdoors is one of the quickest and most effective jolts to your system, which will instantly refresh your mind, body and spirit. Even just a short 20-minute jog or HIT bodyweight workout can be counted on to put a spring back into your step.

“If you’re looking to add variety to your outdoor workouts, I would recommend the Freeletics Bodyweight app, which offers hundreds of workouts that can be done anytime, anywhere with no equipment, ensuring you’re constantly challenging your body and reaping the results of regular exercise.”

You’ll drink more water

Staying hydrated is one of the most important factors in minimising the dangers of cold-weather workouts.

David added: “Even though it’s cold, the body continues to sweat, but that sweat evaporates more quickly into the cold air, making it seem as though the body is losing less water. Drinking water before, during and after cold-weather workouts helps maintain peak performance, protect the body from injury and stay warm from start to finish.”

You’ll boost your immunity levels

It’s widely accepted that exercise strengthens our body’s ability to work at peak levels and, as a result, can help to ward of everything from the common cold to the dreaded flu.

David said: “In fact, some studies have found that by continuing to train in the cold months, you are 20 to 30 per cent less likely to succumb to the flu compared to those who sit out of training during the winter.

You’ll fully understand the importance of warming up and cooling down

Proper warm-up and cool-down movements are crucial to keeping the body in top fitness shape, but they become even more important when it’s cold outside.

David explained: “Keeping the body loose, limber and warm for a cold-weather workout can help prevent painful twists, sprains, tears and other injuries. Winter workouts will encourage you to become a pro when it comes to full warm-up and cool-down routines, the former to keep your internal body temperature elevated, and the latter to reduce unnecessary tightness inspired by the chill in the air.”

You’ll get a good dose of the all-important vitamin D

In the winter months, it’s all too easy to hide indoors and stay warm. This means that the all-important sunshine vitamin, vitamin D can be in short supply, which can result a range of health problems from depression to weakened bones.

David said: “For most people, just 10 minutes in the midday sun is enough to keep levels where they should be, so heading outdoors to workout can greatly help to boost your vitamin D levels, and your overall health.”

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