“Keeping up with a typical workout routine can be extremely difficult in the winter,” says Rhys Athayde, trainer at New York City’s The Dogpound, a favorite amongst Victoria’s Secret angels and Olympic fencer Miles Chamley-Watson alike. “The sun rises later and sets sooner, naturally your body begins to store more fat, and the food is fantastic during Thanksgiving and Christmas, which makes it a lot easier to gain a few extra pounds this season.”
Extra pounds? No thanks. Here are four reasons to embrace cold weather workouts (aside from staving off that seasonal weight gain):
And not just, like, excited-type stoked. When you’re in chillier temperatures, your body works harder to regulate core temperature, says Dale Collins, MS, CSCS, exercise physiologist for the Department of Defense. “The body has to expend additional energy to stay warm, so exercising in the cold yields a higher caloric expenditure. This has a particular effect on brown fat cells (an energy-burning fat commonly found in athletes and those with a high lean muscle ratio).”
Granted, the calories burned varies with each person’s body mass and temperatures. One 2014 study published in the 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism revealed that people have more genetic markers for brown fat in the winter, which could signal slightly more calorie burn in the winter as the body insulates itself.
You don’t want to be out there longer than you have to be, right? Well good news: a brisk chill can actually make you move faster. Research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that race times are faster in cold weather than in warmer temperatures. An added benefit? Speedier runs burn more calories, period.
We’ve all know that exercise makes you happy because it gives you so many endorphins. But in the winter, there are a slew of factors that make it important to prioritize that weekend long run around the park. Seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons, is high in the winter time. Staying active can help to provide you with a necessary mood boost that’ll last you through March.
“We know that people ultimately will feel better with movement because of the hormone surge,” says Cardone. “That feeling of accomplishment is great. Making time for movement is essential.”