Benefits of exercising outdoors this winter
The weather's getting colder and sometimes it’s hard to fight the urge to rug up in front of the tv with a mug of hot chocolate. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with having a little downtime once in a while, but it’s important you don’t let the cold weather stop you from getting your dose of daily exercise.
If you're anything like me, the thought of stepping into a sweaty gym isn’t exactly at the top of your list of favourite things to do. I prefer to get my exercise the old fashioned (and non-expensive) way – walking.
So I’ve done a bit of research on ways to keep myself warm and safe while continuing my walking routine this winter – despite the colder weather. These same points apply if you're a runner or enjoy doing any sort of outdoor exercise:
- Wear suitable clothing: Be aware of the weather conditions (including wind chill factor) and dress appropriately. Choose fabrics that will keep moisture away from your skin to stop you from getting wet and cold. Wearing lots of layers is also a good idea as you can discard them as you get warmer. And of course, brightly coloured clothing is a must for walkers and joggers for visibility. As one-third of your body heat escapes from your head, remember to grab a hat (as well as gloves) before you head out the door.
- Safety first: Venture out in daylight as much as you can and be careful to avoid muddy, slippery surfaces. If you must head out at night, take a torch and wear reflective gear.
- Drink lots of water: Even though it's not as muggy, keeping your fluids up is as important in winter as it is in summer.
- Warming-up: If you are a jogger, set some extra time aside for your warm-up exercises. This is really important for warming up tight muscles in order to prevent injuries. And always remember that it's not a good idea to run when you have a flu or a cold, as it puts extra stress on your heart.
Just in case you need any more reasons for keeping your daily exercise routine outdoors this winter, check out these added benefits:
- According to international studies, moderate exercise can boost your immune system and help fight off bacterial and viral infections. When your blood gets pumping, immune calls travel through your body at a faster pace which helps them to seek and destroy lurking infections.
- You will burn more calories too, because your body is working harder to keep warm. As your metabolism gets cranking your body will burn more calories and fat to produce more energy.
- It will boost your mood! If you’re someone who feels a bit blue when it’s all dark and chilly outside, exercise endorphins really help to pick you up and lift your mood. Also, you’ll get the benefit of increasing the production of mood-elevating Vitamin D.
- And finally, it’s great for your will-power. After a couple of days of biting the bullet and heading outdoors, it will become easier to ignore the cosiness of the couch and instead burst outside with great gusto on a regular basis.
Don’t let the cold keep you inside this winter! Throw on a couple of extra layers, get outside and get moving – your body and your mood will thank you for it.