With winter in full swing, you may be wondering if it’s still safe to exercise outside.
Is exercising in cold weather good for you?
Yes, exercising in cold weather can have some benefits. Cold weather can help to improve your circulation and make you feel more alert. It can also help to burn more calories and fat. However, it is important to dress properly and warm up before exercising in cold weather.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about exercising in cold weather.
Is It Healthy To Work Out In the Cold?
Contrary to popular belief, exercising in cold weather can be good for you if you take the proper precautions.
The weather can significantly impact our motivation to stay active, and cold weather can make it harder to get out and exercise. However, research has shown several health benefits to working out in the cold, increased calorie burn, and reduced inflammation.
Cold weather causes our blood vessels to constrict, which can make it hard for the blood to transfer to different parts of the body.
However, regular exercise helps to keep our blood vessels open and improve blood flow.
Additionally, research has shown that working out in the cold can help to burn more calories.
A study published in Physiological Anthropology found that people who exercised in cold temperatures burned more calories than those who exercised in warm temperatures.
Another great benefit of working out in the cold is reduced inflammation.
Inflammation is a natural process that aids in the healing of wounds and the prevention of infection. However, too much inflammation can lead to heart disease and arthritis.
Exercise is known to help reduce inflammation, and research has shown that working out in the cold can help to reduce inflammation even more.
So, working out in the cold may be a great option if you’re looking for a way to improve your health and fitness.
7 Cold Weather Exercise Benefits
If you’re unsure whether or not to go outside in the cold for your next workout, consider these seven benefits of exercising in cold weather:
1. Helps Burn More Calories
When you exercise in cold weather, your body has to work harder to keep its core temperature stable.
In fact, you can sometimes burn up to 30% more calories by exercising in cold weather than you would if you were working out in warmer conditions.
That’s a great reason to pull on some sweats and head outdoors for a brisk morning run.
2. Exercising in the Cold Can Help You Build Up Your Endurance
Exercising in cold weather can be beneficial if you’re training for a race or another type of endurance event.
When constantly exposed to cold temperatures, your body will begin to adapt and become more efficient at handling the stress of endurance exercise.
This is exactly how I trained for my first half-marathon.
While it wasn’t always comfortable, running in the cold did help me build up the strength to run 13 miles.
3. Cold Weather Workouts Can Improve Your Circulation
When you exercise in the cold, your blood vessels constrict, and this helps to improve your blood flow to all the parts of your body.
Proper movement of blood in the body can lead to better overall cardiovascular health.
You could write an entire book on the benefits: everything from organ function to a sharper mind.
4. Boost Your Immune System
Exercising in cold weather can help boost your immune system.
When you expose your body to lower temperatures, it responds by increasing its efforts to keep warm. More blood flow means faster circulating white blood cells and antibodies – allowing you to fend off illness and infections.
This one surprises a lot of people.
A lot of us grew up with parents who warned us to stay out of the cold to avoid catching a cold.
5. Improves Your Mental Health
Exercising in the cold has been found to improve mental health by alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Endorphins, produced during exercise, can also help improve your mood.
Almost anything that brings more happiness into the world is good in my book.
6. Increases Your Alertness
Move over, coffee – there’s a new way to wake up our brains in the morning.
Researchers have found that exercising in cold temperatures can actually improve your alertness and mental sharpness. And there’s no need to plunge into an icy river (Polar Bear Plunge).
Simply taking a brisk walk outside in wintry weather can give you the brain benefits of a cold workout.
So how does it work?
When you exercise in the cold, your body goes into overdrive to keep you warm. This increased effort sends more blood and oxygen into your brain, improving your alertness and mental sharpness.
When the weather outside is cold, you may have to get creative with your workout routine.
This can lead to a more varied and interesting workout that ultimately helps you to achieve your fitness goals.
So, if you’re looking for a good reason to head outdoors for your next workout, consider one (or all!) of these seven logical benefits of exercising in cold weather.
Just be sure to dress appropriately and start slowly to avoid injury.
Here is a good video about exercising in cold weather:
Cold Weather Exercise Dangers & Risks
Exercising in cold weather comes with a number of dangers and risks.
First, cold weather can cause hypothermia when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, confusion, slurred speech, and drowsiness.
If not treated, hypothermia can lead to cardiac arrest, coma, and even death.
Another danger of exercising in cold weather is frostbite. Frostbite occurs when your skin and body tissue freezes.
Numbness, white or grayish-yellow skin, and hard or waxy skin are all symptoms of frostbite. Frostbite can have lifelong consequences, in some cases, including amputation.
Finally, cold weather can also exacerbate conditions like asthma and heart disease.
People with these health complications should be extra careful when exercising in the cold and consult their doctor beforehand.
Despite the dangers and risks, many people enjoy exercising in cold weather.
If you choose to exercise in the cold, dress in layers, stay hydrated, and take breaks indoors to warm up as needed.
Always listen to your body; if you start to experience any symptoms of hypothermia, frostbite, or your health condition worsens, stop exercising and seek medical help immediately.
Is It Better To Work Out in the Cold or Hot?
When it comes to working out, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
Some people prefer to workout out in the heat, while others prefer to get their heart rate up in the cold. So, which is better?
Cold and hot workouts have their own set of advantages.
Working out in the cold may help you burn more calories if you’re trying to lose weight. That’s because your body increases effort to balance your internal temperature, which means you’ll use and lose more calories.
Working out in the heat may be a better option if you’re looking to improve your endurance or build muscle.
That’s because your muscles will perform better when they’re warm.
So, which is better for you? It depends on your goals. If unsure, try both and see what works better for you.
When Is It Too Cold to Exercise Outside?
It is too cold to exercise outside when the temperature is below 0 degrees Fahrenheit or when the wind chill is extremely low.
However, some people can tolerate colder temperatures for a short period of time.
When the wind chill is factored in, the temperature can feel much colder than it is. If the wind chill is below freezing temperature, it is not safe to exercise outside.
Frostbite can occur in as little as 30 minutes in these conditions.
If you must exercise outside in cold weather, dress in layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing, and be sure to cover your extremities (hands, feet, ears, and face).
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks to avoid overexertion.
Stop exercising and seek warm shelter immediately if you start to feel any signs of hypothermia.
Does Exercising in the Cold Burn More Calories?
When the temperature outside dips, your body has to fight harder to stay warm.
In addition, research indicates that you might consume more calories when working out in cold weather as opposed to moderate or hot temperatures.
One study found that people burned about 34% more calories when they hiked in a colder temperature than when they walked in a warmer temperature.
Hiking in cold weather is surprisingly good for many people.
Of course, exercising in the cold isn’t for everyone.
One key factor to note is that less strenuous exercise in the cold appears to maximize your cold-weather calorie burn.
If you have asthma or other respiratory issues, you may find it difficult to breathe in cold air. If you’re not used to working out in the cold, you may want to start slowly and build up your tolerance.
But if you are looking for a way to boost your calorie burn, exercising in the cold may be worthwhile.
If you’re looking to whip yourself into shape, here are some of my favorite exercise machines and supplements:
|Total Gym APEX
|Check the current price
|Sunny Health Elliptical
|Check the current price
|Power Tower Dip Station Pull-Up Bar
|Check the current price
|Collagen Powder Supplement
|Check the current price
You can use the equipment in a cold room (like a basement or garage) to stay comfortable while burning more calories. The supplement will help keep your body safe and healthy when working out in colder weather.
Exercising in Cold Weather Lungs
Cold weather can affect your lungs.
When you breathe in cold air, your lungs have to work harder than when you breathe in warm air. This is because the cold air is denser than warm air, so your lungs have to expand more to take in the same amount of air.
This can lead to lung irritation and even inflammation.
Exercising in cold weather can be particularly risky if you have asthma or another lung condition. This is because cold air often triggers asthma attacks and worsens existing symptoms.
If you have asthma, it’s important to talk to your doctor before you exercise in the cold.
They can help you develop a plan that will minimize your risk of having an asthma attack.
If you don’t have asthma, you can still take steps to protect your lungs when exercising in the cold. First, dress warmly. This will help you avoid getting too cold, which can stress your lungs.
Second, warm up before you start exercising.
A brief walk or light jog will help get your blood flowing and prepare your lungs for the colder air. Finally, don’t exercise too hard.
If you feel short of breath, slow down or stop.
Some people believe running in cold weather can help improve your lungs and respiratory system.
However, there is no scientific evidence yet to support this claim.
Running in cold weather can strain your heart and lungs and may actually lead to injuries.
If you choose to run in cold weather, wear comfortable clothing that can protect your body from cold, and don’t forget to take extra care to avoid slipping and falling.
While the long-term effects of cold weather exercise are still being studied, it appears that for most people, exercising in cold weather is safe and may even have some health benefits.
We have lots of other great articles on this site about living, working, and playing in the cold.
Check out these hand-selected articles we think you’ll love:
- Is Coffee Good for Cold Weather? (Solved & Explained)
- Why Do My Eyes Water on Cold Days? (Solved & Explained)
- Is a Windbreaker Good for Cold Weather? (Solved)
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, and this isn’t medical advice. You should always consult with a licensed medical professional before making any decisions about your health. That said, I hope that the information I share on this blog will be helpful to you on your journey to better health.