10 Reasons to Exercise Outside During Winter

While it might be more tempting to stay under the doona or rugged up in front of the heater – exercising outdoors during winter does have some surprising health benefits! Here are ten that might motivate you to sweat it outdoors in the cold weather.

 

Excercise in Winter

1. You burn more calories
When the temperatures outside drops your body has to work overtime to keep you warm, according to Body Styling Fitness personal trainer and founder Marc Dellapia.

“Your body works harder to maintain its core temperature among the elements, so you’ll burn more calories during your winter outdoor workout compared to one conducted indoor or in a gym,” explains the South Australian trainer.

2. It makes your heart stronger
Your body needs a strong heart to pump oxygenated blood to your muscles and prevent heart disease. “The cold weather makes your heart work harder to distribute blood throughout your body, so you get fitter than you would normally,” Marc says.

3. Improves your mental health
Exercising in nature improves mental health and your emotional well being, as well as reducing stress, found Finnish researchers from the University of Tampere.

A Canadian study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology also found being outdoors has a positive effect on vitality, aliveness, sense of enthusiasm and energy. So, instead of looking at the your gym’s wall or TV screens, you’ll be surrounded by mental health boosting trees, flowers and water.

4. You get a dose of Vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency is common in Australia, especially during winter, according to Osteoporosis Australia. So getting that essential dose of vitamin D is worth a trip outdoors.

Star of The Dr Oz Show, Dr Mehmet Oz, says sun exposure is important to stay healthy and stave off winter colds. “There are 50 chemicals released when the sun hits your skin,” he explains.

5. Shed the fat
According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2009, exercising outdoors in cool temperatures activates brown fat. What is brown fat? Brown fat uses the white and yellow fat you might find on your stomach and thighs, to make you warm, and hence burn calories more efficiently.
6. You’ll feel happier
Doing exercise already makes us happy as it releases endorphins, the chemical that helps trigger positive feelings and make us feel happy.“Because your body has to work harder in the cold, your endorphin production is boosted even more,” Marc says.

7. Different surroundings
In addition to the cool temperatures and lovely scenery, the terrain outdoors is more varied than your average gym treadmill and activates your muscles differently. A study by University of Brighton even found that people actually burn less calories running on a treadmill, compared to running the same distance outdoors.

8. You avoid the germs at the gym
Winter is often called ‘cold and flu season’, and heading to the gym might see you in contact with viruses you want to stay away from. The presence of rhinoviruses (the predominant cause of the common cold) was found on 63% of hand-contacted surfaces of gym equipment, in a 2006 test by American medical professionals. The main offenders were weights, exercise mats and cardio machines.

9. It’s the ideal weather for running
Running in hot weather is hard on the body and you may feel dehydrated and exhausted. Making winter ideal for running. “The colder the weather, the less heat stress on the body, which makes it easier to run. You also feel refreshed due to the lack of humidity and freshness of the chill,” Marc says.

10. Cheaper than the gym
The Great Outdoors has no joining fee or monthly payments, and is open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.
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Sources:

• Mental health:
o Finish Researchers: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/

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