The chillier temps are here — especially for those of us on the East Coast — which would normally mean bringing our outdoor workouts indoors. The trail run and park group classes make way for treadmill runs and in-studio sessions, but just because the thermometer numbers are dropping, it doesn’t mean our workouts should too. Outdoor workouts not only merge two major benefits together — time in nature and time spent sweating — they can also come with a host of other weight loss and muscle building benefits.
Here’s why you should keep the sessions outdoors — and bust out your thermal gear — this winter:
1. You’ll burn more calories
It’s the same principle that dictates why changing the thermostat in your home can help boost your metabolism and burn an increased number of calories — working out in cooler temperatures means that your body has to work extra hard to keep your core at a stable temperature. More studies show that heading outdoors to sweat in the chilly temperatures will mean your brown fat — the type of fat that fights obesity — will be activated.
2. You can exercise longer
Want to build endurance, or rack up your miles? Winter might be the perfect time to do just that. Because you’re not exercising in heat and humidity, and your body is working to keep your core temperature regulated, you might be able to keep going for longer stretches of time, burning even more calories, and reaching even farther distances than before.
Colder months mean shorter days, which directly relate to an uptick in seasonal affective disorder (SAD), aka, the “winter blues.” While you can set up light lamps in your apartment to mimic the presence of sunshine, or eat your share of vitamin D-loaded fruits, you might want to head the more holistic route: simply head outside.
Spending some time outdoors, especially during those light hours, means you can not only reap the benefits of nature, but also help your body increase its share of vitamin D, all the while fighting stress and depression. Just don’t forget the SPF — sun damage isn’t seasonal.
4. It can help you fight the common winter colds
Exercise is often listed as one of the best ways to help fight illness — after all, it boosts your immunity — so why not ensure that during your most vulnerable months, you’re not falling prone to the common cold? Studies have shown that people who hold regular exercise routines tend to get sick less often, and aren’t down for the count as seriously as those who skip their sessions.
5. You’ll fight back against holiday weight gain
You’ve made it through Thanksgiving, now it’s time to survive Christmas and all of its temptations. During the time of year when we’re most likely to overeat — face it, those never-ending side dishes and desserts are more than appealing — making time for a workout means that you’ll be coming out of the holiday season with a far healthier outcome.
Now head outside — safely, of course — and don’t skip out on the benefits.