Yesterday, I posted a suggestion that you should take your workout outside. I received some blowback (read: excuses) from my friends in Minnesota. I find this particularly useful for banter, given that we’re smack in the middle of the Winter Olympics! What sort of things can you do in the cold weather?
- Ice Hockey – 403 calories per hour
- Downhill skiing – 408 calories per hour
- Curling – 420 calories per hour
- Snowboarding – 520 calories per hour
- Speed skating -1,020 calories per hour
- Cross country skiing – 1,320 calories per hour
Lest you think I’m not in touch with my artistic side, the top Winter Olympic sport for burning calories? Figure skating, at 1,470 calories per hour.
My peeps in Minneapolis should now have ample activity amidst their frigid temperatures. For the record, Minnesota natives, my boys on the dock in Boston had no complaints.
My cold weather readers should be celebrating these frozen days. Training in cold weather actually boosts the efficiency and effectiveness of your workouts. A study out of Northern Arizona University showed a 29% increase in running speed due to an increase in maximal oxygen uptake during extremely cold temperatures (less than 8 degrees Fahrenheit).
Looking to shed pounds? New studies are demonstrating how beneficial cold weather can be. From NBC News:
When a body trembles from the cold, it releases irisin, also known as the “exercise hormone,” which stimulates fat tissue to produce heat so the body can maintain its core temperature. Increases in irisin turns the body’s white fat into the more metabolically active brown fat, which helps the body burn more calories.
Additionally, the body’s metabolism tends to slow down during winter. Regularly working out in the cold keeps it working at maximum efficiency.
Winter tends to depress the immune system. Regular exercise, however, gives said immune system a boost, reducing the chances of catching the cold or flu up to 30%.
Winter also sees many people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a problem associated with not getting enough natural light. In addition to all the proven mood-elevating benefits of regular exercise, some time out under the sun (even if it’s not warm) reduces symptoms.
As long as you ensure that you stay active, wear proper clothing, hydrate, and don’t overdo it, it’s never too cold. According to exercise physiologist Dr. John Castellani:
The big question was, ‘Is it ever too cold?…The answer is no. People go to the poles, people are out there when it’s minus-50 degrees, people do incredible things, and safely. There really isn’t a point where you can tell people it is not safe anymore.
So get out there and enjoy the cold. You’ll feel better afterwards, I promise.