While some of us love to get outdoors during winter, snuggling under scarves and gloves, others retreat inside instead.
There’s no denying that going for a run at dawn takes a little more willpower in winter than it does in warmer months, and hiking endless trails is certainly tougher. But there’s no reason to let winter put you off the outdoors activities you love.
In fact, it might even do you the world of good: research shows that exposure to cold weather offers various health benefits. Let’s take a closer look …
Cold Could Be Key to a Speedier Metabolism
Being outside in cold weather gives you a faster metabolism. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s complicated. You may not be able to burn off those Christmas treats by simply standing in your back yard for 10 minutes, or adopt an all-chocolate diet because you ice-skate for an hour a day.
Still, while cold weather’s not a cure for storing fat, it has been shown to increase the speed of your metabolism. The reason? It activates the body’s ‘brown’ fat, which then generates heat through burning calories.
So, you can burn more calories by spending time outdoors, but be careful not to over-expose yourself to low temperatures. A hike on a snowy trail, building a snowman, or going for a run in chilly weather can lead to positive effects.
Your Heart will Get Stronger
If you have a heart condition or any other cardiovascular issues, prolonged exposure to the cold can be a danger, due to the extra effort your heart makes in lower temperatures. The additional stress of pumping blood around the body should be avoided for certain people.
However, for those in good health, regular exercise in cold weather can make the heart even stronger. This may help it cope with tougher workouts as you increase your distance run or weight lifted.
Combat Low Moods and Stress
While plenty of us love winter, Christmas, and everything the season brings, others struggle.
This is understandable. Low temperatures, rainfall (increasing flood risks in certain areas), strong winds (potentially damaging properties), and the financial demands of Christmas can all get too much for even the jolliest person.
Getting outside for a run, a walk, a hike, a bike ride, a spot of skiing, or even just playing in the snow with your kids or pets can release much-needed endorphins. These are the body’s feel-good chemicals, and even just a little exercise will lift your mood.
Exercise is often recommended for people struggling with stress and depression, so give it a try if you’re facing difficulties.
Exercising outdoors is good for you throughout the year, but getting out in the fresh air during winter might just be better for you than you imagine. Consider taking up a new sport, get into hiking to explore your nearest beauty-sports, or just spend time playing outside with the family.
It’s very easy to stay on the couch in the colder months, watching movies and snacking, but this isn’t ideal for your health. Even the smallest, briefest activity can help your body stay in good condition during winter. Give it a go – you may just love it.