If you think winter is an excuse to take a break from sports, you’re wrong. Autumn and winter are the perfect seasons to do outdoor sports. Today our fit expert Julie explains the top 3 benefits of outdoor workouts during the cold winter months. As a bonus you get 5 tips to make sure you get the most out of your workout.
It’s only cold if you are standing still
Exercising is healthy, everyone knows that. Whether in spring, summer, autumn or winter, it doesn’t matter. Exercise is good for the body and the mind. But besides the fact that exercising in any season is simply healthy, there are still 3 additional benefits to exercising in the cold winter months:
1. Lower heart pumps
Endurance sports like cycling, running and swimming in low(er) temperatures make you happy, strong and fit! When training in the cold, your body needs to use less energy for heat regulation because the more you exert yourself, the more heat your body produces. In low temperatures, it acts as a heater that keeps the body from hypothermia. When it is warm outside, your body has to get rid of excess heat by increasing the heart rate. When it’s cold, your heart doesn’t have to pump as hard for the same performance and therefore the heart load drops.
2. More oxygen
Your muscles also get more oxygen during training in the cold compared to training in warm weather. When you exercise at high temperatures, a redistribution of blood takes place whereby more blood flows through the skin and less through the muscles.
3. Release of happiness
Did you also know that during workouts in the cold, your body produces serotonin, better known as the happiness hormone? Scientists even say that this would fight depressive feelings up to 5 times better than an antidepressant from the pharmacy. So when you are feeling down, just go for a run. Or do a 15 minute workout on your terrace.
5 Tips for outdoor workouts during the winter
1. Layer up
What you should not lose sight of is your sportswear, there are already numerous collections that are ideal for a workout in the cold and darker weather. It’s always useful to work with layers. Layer one, thermal underwear, is for the removal of perspiration so you don’t cool down (too fast). Layer two is to keep our body warm, like thick leggings with a sweater or cardigan. Layer three is the outer layer that should protect us from certain weather conditions such as strong gusts of wind or rain, I think of a good raincoat. Our body loses heat mainly through our head, hands and feet. Everyone has a hat and gloves somewhere in their closet so nothing can stop us from exercising outside!
2. Warm up first
Ready to head out, there is one more thing to do and that is to make sure you warm up properly. If you were to skip this, you could have muscle problems. A short but intense minute of rope jumping, twisting arms, on the spot jogging and you are good to go!
3. Drink water
Don’t forget to bring enough water, because even if it seems like you’re less thirsty, you’re still sweating and the dry air will dehydrate you faster.
4. Focus on your breathing
During exercise, try to breathe through your nose and keep your mouth closed more. As I said, cold air dehydrates faster, this also has an effect on your throat membranes which become slightly more susceptible to viruses and bacteria. A trick for this is to suck on a mint during your workout. You will then automatically breathe more through your nose.
5. Know when to stop
If you notice that you are shivering during your workout, this is your cue to stop and seek out the warmth again. Your glucose supply is going down 5 times faster and you will get exhausted, so this is your body sending out warning signals, and you know what to do then…”always listen to your body”.