Winter weather can be perfect excuse to not get out and exercise but research suggests that when the mercury dips towards freezing it is the perfect time to get out and pound the pavements.
It’s harder to get motivated during the dark winter months and it’s tempting to put the feet up in front of a log fire, pour yourself a drink and tuck into some more left over turkey. It’s easy to simply right off the whole month of December as a lost cause in terms of exercise but, if you think about it, exercise is the perfect remedy to everything that annoys you about the holiday season, from over indulgence to cabin fever and stress.
You have a more time to exercise over the holidays too, so if you make a commitment to getting outdoors in the cold weather every day, not only can you fend off the January blubber that you know is out to get you, but you can increase you immunity, avoid colds and flues as well as brighten your outlook for the New Year. There are too many reasons not to do it.
Calorie burn can be higher in the winter as the body expends energy on simply keeping warm. Generally the temperature at which your body is just about to start shivering is the best for this. Also in cold temperatures, the body draws blood to the core to protect the organs, so it’s important to work in exercises that redistribute that blood to the muscles of the arms and legs. Stopping running for a series of aerobic workouts whether it’s with weights, pull ups, lunges or skipping will maximise the workout and give better fitness results than in hot weather.
Research from marathons gathered by the US Military (now your listening), has shown that male winners were on average 1.7% slower than the course record when temperatures were between 1-10°C and that times got dramatically slower as the temperature increased. For sure, this data is high-performance specific, but it makes sense that the perfect marathon temperature is below 5°C.
As the ground freezes and the days seem to be gone before lunch time, the levels of feel-good chemicals in our brains is reduced. The result can be listless, sleepless, lethargy and for some depression. But again cardio exercise is the best way to up your serotonin and get this, it’s four times more effective at reducing the symptoms of depression than antidepressants.
The type of fat you burn is also important. There is evidence to suggest that cold-weather exercise targets also the fat that lives inside your torso, surrounding your vital organs and is linked to high blood-fat levels and depressed concentrations of the protective high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. It’s dangerous because fat that surrounds the organs are easily released directly into the blood and reach the liver where they can be processed into VLDLs and LDLs, the ‘bad fats’ which are associated with coronary heart disease.
It’s important that you prepare well for your winter run/work out. That means wrapping up well, in layers. Layers should be easy to remove as your body temperature increases and will be easy to put back on if your body temperature dips at all. Also carrying the extra weight of the clothes will help birn more calories. Gloves and thick socks should be worn in order to protect your outer extremities. Don’t over do it, as if you get injured on the wrong side of a 15 k run you could face a very cold hobble home as your body temperture dips and you approach hypothermia.
Making a commitment to running and outdoor exercise could be the the best thing you do this winter. So get off the armchair and do it, it will allow you to be guilt free for the rest of the day so you can indulge all you want. Swide wants to here all about how you got on.