• Bronwyn Tagg

What nobody tells you about exercising outside in winter

When the days are cold, dark and somewhat miserable – as it certainly has been the past few weeks – it can be hard to motivate yourself to go outside and train. Sitting inside with a hot chocolate can seem much more appealing. But training outside in these winter months can have so many benefits. Not only are getting a session done that will help you progress towards your goals, but you are benefitting your health and your mind. Here are 8 reasons you should put on your shoes and get out the door – because that’s the hardest part.

1. Being closer to nature is beneficial

It sounds fluffy but being closer to nature can help you feel more ‘at one’ and in the present. It can help you stop worrying about the past and think more about the exercise you are performing in the fresh air. So next time you go for a run, try to push your work troubles or your life stresses to the back of your mind and focus on the sounds, the smells and feel of running outside.

2. It can instil a positive mindset

Exercise outside on a tougher terrain can sometimes act as a challenge in comparison to the consistent and predictable indoor treadmill. Completing challenges in a harder terrain can instil a positive mindset and increase your confidence. Exercising outside can also make you more likely to continue with exercise, partially due to this increased self-esteem. After all, if you can run when its nearly freezing you can run anytime!

3. It’s so good for your mental health! (I can’t express this one enough!)

- Sunshine helps naturally increase serotonin. This hormone is vital in increasing your mood. So, going for that cycle outside instead of the treadmill can really help make you feel happier, even in the colder weather.

- As well as making you cheerier, the endorphins produced by exercise can also help to reduce pain – both mental and physical. This is due to the fact that outside exercising acts as a natural antidepressant.

- Exercising in sunlight has been known to help ward off seasonal affective disorder – as a ‘sufferer’ myself, the benefits of doing my sessions in daylight as opposed to in the darker evenings are crystal clear. Perhaps on the days you’re feeling low, make a bigger effort to train outside, even if that means a brisk walk or jog before your indoors gym session.

- The rise in your body temperature during a workout has a soothing and calming effect on your body, not unlike soaking in a bath… but with the added health benefits!

4. Being outside helps boost your immune system

Physical activity outside helps to flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways with the fresh air. This can help reduce your chances of cold and flu because it will strengthen the antibodies and white blood cells that help to fight harmful pathogens. Being outside also contributes to healthy circulation, so if your aim is to be healthier, think about going outside too. This is important now more than ever, with annual flu seasons.

5. It can mean doing your workout somewhere new

Perhaps take your gym workout to the local park this week. As long as you’re working hard and have got the right clothing on, you’ll be fine! Just exercising somewhere new can be a real breath of fresh air – excuse the pun. For most workouts, you don’t need much space so any patch of grass / tarmac / astro will do.

6. Increase your heart health and improve endurance

These two factors work hand in hand. Cold weather makes it harder for your heart to pump the blood round your body, which will ultimately make you fitter and your heart stronger. When you are fitter, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard in colder temperatures, and you sweat less, therefore you expend less energy when completing the same exercise at the same ‘level’ and can exercise more efficiently.

7. It helps you burn fat

Studies also have shown that exercising in cold weather can transform white fat, specifically belly and thigh fat, into calorie-burning brown fat. You’ll also burn more calories as the body works harder to regulate your body temperature in the cold conditions. This means you’ll burn more calories than if you did the workout inside. The number of calories you will burn is dependent on your body mass and extremity of the temperate… but it’s a nice morale booster either way!

8. You’ll build up tolerance to colder conditions

If you didn’t relate to any of the benefits listed above, you’ll most certainly relate to this one! Put simply, the more you embrace the winter conditions, the easier you’ll find exercising in these environments. Why wouldn’t you want to make your life easier? So, stop putting it off and go outside!

So, you see, it really is worth braving the cold and heading outside to do your workout. Now you know WHY you should do it, if you’re not sure about HOW to brave a winter session, keep your eyes peeled for our mini blog - releasing in the next couple of days!

By Bronwyn

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