5 Benefits of Running in Cold Weather
It may be chilly, but don't hide away inside! Running outside has a hidden treasure trove of benefits. I list five of them below!
Before you retreat to that treadmill for your run, check out the benefits of running in the cold: it may actually feel easier to run in the cold, could help you reach those fitness goals, boost your mood, and keep your metabolism going strong. So keep reading and get ready to rock your frigid run.
1. Cold weather is actually ideal for running.
It may not feel like it, but cold weather is actually the ideal condition for your run. Heat stresses the body and the colder weather makes it significantly easier to run. There is a reason why the majority of marathons and half marathons are held in Spring and Fall.
2. Running in cold helps your metabolism.
Unfortunately, our bodies are programmed, from an evolutionary perspective, to preserve our fat stores in the winter. This means our metabolisms slow down because our exercise levels usually decrease (there was less hunting/gathering in the winter). Running in the cold can trick our bodies to avoid seasonal metabolism slowdown, helping to reach and maintain our fitness goals.
3. Running outdoors in the winter helps you stay active.
Treadmill running can get boring (and boring means it's harder for us to do). Contrast that with running in cold weather - it will never get dull - there's just too many things to see outside and it's always changing. Plus it's convenient, it's free, and it will help you stay active when you're tempted to hibernate. We already move less and eat more in the winter months, getting outside and running in the cold combats this, as running burns significant calories, especially during winter. Hitting the trails or pounding the pavement, could also help you live longer. According to a 2017 study published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, runners are reported to have a 25 to 40 percent reduced premature death risk and live about three years longer than those who are more sedentary.
4. Running in the cold helps that SAD feeling.
As the days get shorter so does our outside activity. For some, this ushers in the onset of Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD). Enter cold weather running, which releases powerful mood-elevating hormones that combat this depression, compounded with the invigorating affect of the cold, your mood becomes elevated. But wait, there's more! Outdoor running boosts your mood even higher, increasing energy and decreasing feelings of depression, based on a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
5. Running in cold can burn more calories.
Okay, I know that burning calories *shouldn't* be my biggest motivator...but this is my personal favorite. Frigid temperatures can actually change your body type fat. There are different types of fat in the body - white, brown, and various shades in between - brown fat is actually metabolic tissue that burns calories. White fat is the fat most people are trying to get rid of. An increase in scientific literature reports exercising while exposing your body to the cold can turn white fat into brown. Mind blown! Not only does running in the cold burn more calories in general (it takes more energy, aka calories, to stay warm), it could also change your body composition. How cool is that!
While you're reaping all these cold-weather running benefits, be sure to stay safe with my tips below!
Warm up inside - do some jumping jacks, squats, lunges, or even some yoga.
Go slower - Conditions are different than on sunny days, be safe and slow down.
Spike it - If it's icy where you live, or if you're trail running, wear some good snow spikes.
Layer up - Protect your outer extremities (hat, gloves) and also wear layers you can shed or add easily.
No matter what, keep doing what you love and create joy in your journey.