Winter fitness: Tips for a better outdoor workout

Published 30.11.2015 00:00
Winter fitness: Tips for a better outdoor workout

You may not find enough motivation to do workouts outdoors in the winter, yet exercising in the cold yields health benefits such as preventing seasonal affective disorder and the energy loss. Take a look at some tips for a proper outdoor workout experience

It is understandable to say that winter is not an ideal time to do workouts outdoors. If you are dedicated enough, you will run to the gym and lock yourself on treadmill after a stress-filled day or in the morning. As a common fact, metabolism notches down in cold days, thereby snuggling down with a blanket and falling asleep might seem a perfect choice. However, winter blues are not a joke.Instead of staying indoors to workout, researchers and fitness experts suggest that cold-weather workouts have unexpected health benefits. Walking outside helps to avoid seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a mood disorder developed due to shorter daylight hours and lack of sunlight. According to Mental Health America data, three out of four SAD sufferers are women and this condition is mostly seen between the ages of 18 and 30. Winterblues come with a decrease in energy levels, mood and motivation. Affecting half a million people every winter, SAD reaches peak level in December, January and February.

Professor Ali Bozkurt of Liv Hospital told ANKA news agency that seasonal changes give rise to depressive mood as well as changes in lifestyle. "In winter, our body produces less hormones responsible for our happiness," he said, stressing the necessity to use coping skills to overcome this. Exposure to light during cold-weather workouts acts as depression fighter.

The next benefit of outdoor workouts is that you burn more calories. It may not sound true at first, yet when it is cold, you start to shiver and your body heats up, making you burn more calories. Before giving some tips for a better cold-weather workout, bear in mind that regardless of doing workouts indoors or outdoors, a regular workout will make you feel more energetic. According to the U.K. National Health Service (NHS), some studies suggest that moderate exercise strengthens the immune system, while reducing coughs and colds. You may also tend to eat more in colder months, thereby exercising will keep your body fit.

Here are some tips for a better workout experience in cold weather:

Prefer slow-paced sports

While doing sports like running, ice skating and skiing, a significant amount of heat is released from the body, making it difficult to protect itself from cold. Instead of fast-paced sports types, prefer slow-paced sports like walking as less amount of heat is released and it will be much easier to keep your body temperature at the same level.

Drink plenty of water

The body dehydrates during exercise. You may not recognize, but dehydration increases with extra respiratory water loss to cold air. During cold-weather workouts, do not neglect to drink water.

Hypothermia risk

Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce heat. Prolonged exposure to cold, windy and wet environment increases the risk of hypothermia. Frostbite is also another risk when exercising in coldweather. Hypothermia and frostbite, which is associated with the freezing of the skin and underlying tissues, can be prevented with some small steps like wearing a hat and extra clothing.

Dress in layers

One of the main precautions that you should take while exercising outdoors is choosing proper clothes. It would be a mistake to dress too warmly as you generate heat during exercise. Instead, prefer dress in layers because it may then be possible to remove each clothing item as you feel hot. You may wear a synthetic clothing item first then layer with wool for insulation. Cotton is not advised as it draws sweat from your body. You can also choose special thermal clothes for sports, too.

Consider weather

Exercising outdoor is not recommended when it is extremely windy, rainy and in case of a blizzard as there is a higher risk of getting sick.

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