With winter in full swing, dark mornings and evenings the norm, and cold weather well and truly upon us, it can be hard to muster up the motivation to do a workout. It takes longer to warm up, you need SO many layers, and the warmth of your living room is just so comforting…
But… we have some good news, because there are in fact some actual benefits to working out in the cold! So by breaking away from your blanket and fireplace could actually be helping you in more ways than you expect.
Immune Boosting Benefits
We are likely all familiar with the idea of ‘immune boosting’ exercise, so with various bugs flying around left right and centre, working out even when it’s cold is a no-brainer. A study from Bath University discovered that during exercise, the number of illness-busting T cells increased a whopping tenfold, and were relocated to areas of the body that were more susceptible to infection during winter months, including your lungs. This is further compounded by research from Mayo Clinic which found that regular bouts of outdoor exercise could reduce susceptibility to the flu by 20-30%.
We’ve all felt that biting rasp of cold air in our lungs, but if you can embrace the chill, you could discover an impressive aerobic benefit. Blood vessels narrow in cold temperatures, so your heart and lungs have to work that bit harder to circulate blood and oxygen. So whilst yes, it might be harder to breathe whilst out running in the cold, doing so can help improve the aerobic function of the muscles, training them to draw in more oxygen during exercise. In fact, a study from a Northern Arizona University found that cold weather training could lead to up to a 34% increase in your V02 max, as well as allegedly helping to increase your running pace by up to 29%.
The Great British Weather… is ideal!
Who knew that the glorious UK winter could be the ideal conditions for outdoor fitness? Studies at the University of Aberdeen’s med school suggested that the ideal temperature for endurance performance gains is 10-11 degrees Celsius: either side of that and you start to experience a drop in how long you can maintain the same intensity. It’s thought to be to do with the heart rate, because in colder temperatures, your body doesn’t need to pump blood to your peripheries, so you can enjoy a greater central volume of blood. What this means is that for the same pace, you might find you can run with a lower heart rate – up to 15 beats per minute fewer. The extra energy can then be used to run further or harder, perhaps adding in an incline… think of the possibilities!
Fight Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)
It’s estimated that 10-20% of people living in the UK experience symptoms of S.A.D, from low mood to disinterest in everyday activities, feelings of lethargy to despair. Get outside though, and you can prompt the release of two mood-boosting hormones noradrenaline and beta-endorphin, which have been found to help fight seasonal depression. Not to mention, if you can ‘bare’ to show some skin, you’ll be giving your body a dose of Vitamin D at the same time!
So there you have it; some key (and possibly surprising!) benefits of working out in colder temperatures. So even if the windscreen needs defrosting, and you can see your breath in the air – booking onto the next SCFIT class that features a run should be a no brainer!
Looking to join a supportive community that is more than just a gym? Get in touch now to book your free No Sweat Intro!