Who feels like going out in the cold and dark for cardio at this time of year? Science says you should. Discover how being cold can burn more calories.
It’s official: if your winter goal is to prevent excess fat gain, there are legit reasons to bundle up and head outside for your workouts. Science tells us that simply being cold burns more calories than being pleasantly-comfortable-thanks-very-much, because the body expends energy trying to keep warm. In fact, studies show that shivering can increase metabolic rate by as much as five times! We’re not suggesting you shiver your way through every workout this winter, but by embracing the outdoors, you could stay significantly leaner than if you train indoors. Aim for non-shivering thermogenesis (feeling chilly, but not shivering) which can boost metabolic rate by up to 30%.
7 Benefits Of Cold Weather Running
1 ) Extra calories burned, during and after.
Running outdoors in cold weather means your body has to work extra hard, not just to perform the cardio but to keep you warm too. And this NST response ramps up your basal metabolic rate after your run, too, as your body attempts to get back to a normal temperature.
2 ) Feel happier, train harder.
Do you feel a bit of a hermit during winter? Dark evenings and bad weather can leave us feeling lethargic and low. The good news is that outdoor cardio like running boosts serotonin levels, leaving us feeling happier and more energetic. The result? You’re likely to be more active for the rest of the day, burning more energy and keeping fat gain at bay.
3 ) Get a sweat on.
If your usual workout is in the gym, it can be tricky to work up a real sweat over winter. Bundle up in breathable running kit and head outside for a run. You’ll be sweating in no time. Stay healthy by taking Complete Multivitamin Complex™ every day – it’s designed to support your immune system, especially when your body is working extra hard.
4 ) Free up the fat stores.
According to evolutionary theory, our bodies are actually primed to store more fat (and preserve existing body fat) over winter. But you’re not living in a frozen cave, and you know exactly where your next meal is coming from. So it’s thanks but no thanks to evolutionary fat storage. By running more over winter, we could actually prevent the seasonal metabolic slow-down and keep energy expenditure ticking over nicely.
5 ) Boost glucose uptake.
Research has shown that being outside in cold weather can increase glucose uptake by 15%. What does this mean for your physique? You’re more likely to use sugar for energy rather than storing it as body fat.
6 ) Get one up on Summer.
The lean-season seems a long way off right now, but spring will be here before you know it. Keep on running over winter and you’ll have much less work to do in order to reach your summer body goals. Keep on top of your protein intake now, too, with Pure Whey Protein™ which gives your muscles the amino acids needed for repair and recovery. Do the work now, and your summer cut will be much easier.
7 ) Create some headspace.
Christmas can be a hectic, sometimes stressful time of year. If you need to get away for some me-time or could do with some peaceful time out with nothing to listen to but the thud of your feet on the pavement, running provides the perfect antidote to TV repeats and listening to Uncle Roy’s terrible jokes.
The Best Winter Running Sessions.
Morning runs: try doing your outdoor running in the morning. Not only is the outdoor temperature likely to be colder than later in the day, but you’ll set yourself up for a more energised, positive, active day and prime your body with EPOC and improved glucose uptake. Make sure you rehydrate when you get back – try Hydration Drink™ which can help replenish your body’s electrolytes and glycogen stores.
Fartlek: warm-up properly then try this – sprint for 30 seconds, recover (jog) for 90 seconds, repeated 4 times. Then keep the sprint period the same, but decrease the recovery by 15 seconds each set until you are sprinting for 30 seconds, recovering for 15 seconds. Cool down with a jog/walk.
30-minute run: start steady, then gradually increase the pace to 85% of your max heart rate. This will achieve similar fitness benefits to a slower but longer run, without the need to be outside in the cold for so long. Prevent muscle breakdown and protect your lean tissue by taking a good quality BCAA (branch chain amino acid) supplement.
Hill reps: find a well-lit hill that isn’t slippery or icy. Warm-up well and then sprint as hard as you can for around 30 seconds up the hill. Turn and walk or jog back down. Repeat this 8-12 times, then cool down well with a jog/walk.
About the Author:
Nicola Joyce has been writing for (and about) sport, fitness, nutrition and healthy living since 2004. She’s also a keen sportswoman: her background is in endurance sport but she now competes as a natural bodybuilder, most recently winning a world title with the INBF. When she’s not writing content, she can be found blogging. Follow her here www.nicolajoyce.co.uk and on Facebook & Twitter (@thefitwriter) too.