We all know that drinking hot cocoa and laying on the couch sounds a lot more physically and emotionally beneficial than suiting up and readying ourselves for a freezing morning run, but actually, we’re wrong!
Getting outside for a chilly workout could be the best thing we do for our health today.
So why exactly should we take the time to exercise outside rather than staying in binge watching Grey’s Anatomy?
Here’s three big reasons…
- You’ll get your daily dose of Vitamin D
Feeling pangs of seasonal depression or “seasonal affective disorder”?
Well, how about combatting it with a natural, seasonal… antidepressant?
The “sunshine vitamin!” Also known as: Vitamin D.
We all know how difficult it can be to absorb sun rays when you leave in dark and return home to, well, darkness, but if you can get out when the sun is shining, then you’ll do your body good. Go running, walking or take your workout outside to get rid of those winter blues.
Just getting outside and soaking up whatever you can from the sun will help you; and if you’re going to be outside for more than 10-15 minutes– surprise! You’ll actually need to wear some sunscreen. It’s just like going to the beach on a cloudy day; you never think you’ll get burnt, until you realize you’ve been burnt (it happens!)
Vitamin D deficiencies can also rear their heads in the form of bone aches, so if you're feeling achy this winter (which happens to a lot of us when December comes around) it might actually just be because of a vitamin D deficiency!
So along with taking some exercises outdoors, make sure you’re eating nutrient dense foods, ones containing the sunshine vitamin, D. Salmon, tuna, milk, eggs and cheese are good ways to up your “D count.” Just 2.5 servings of salmon a week can assist you through the dark months of November to March.
- It increases your serotonin and endorphin levels
As natural sunlight decreases, the production of our serotonin levels also decreases.
Regular exercise, however, increases our “feel-good” chemicals: serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. Exercise itself can actually treat moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant meds.
When we exercise outside, our bodies work harder to keep us warm, which actually causes us to get a rush of endorphins during our winter workout! Feeling like it’s going be “too cold” to exercise outdoors won’t even be a problem after a few minutes of cardio.
As we exercise, we get warmer. This warming is an effect of increased blood flow to the skin, so our bodies get red as we exercise due to our attempt to release heat; blood flow to the skin increases and our skin feels warmer.
So not only are we happier after winter exercise, but we’re a little bit warmer. No need for that snuggie when you have your legs to run.
- You can burn more calories!
You might have heard that colder temperatures increase the body’s resting metabolic rate, because like I mentioned before, the body has to work harder to stay warm.
But what you may not know, is that the body has two types of fat: brown fat and white fat.
Brown fat is considered the “good” fat, and found in muscle tissues, and white fat, the unhealthy, but essential fat, is found all over. White fat is the fat you see on yourself in the mirror, but it also is essential for survival, as it cushions our organs and our external reactions to our environment (aka falling on our butt and not totally hurting ourselves).
The problem with white fat, is that when it mixes with brown fat, or overpowers our brown fat, it can hinder the function of the brown, so we’re slower to burn calories. That’s bad! So you want as much brown fat as possible!
Luckily, In the winter, we produce more brown fat, since the purpose of brown is to burn calories in order to generate heat. And over time, spending several hours a day in cold temperatures increases the amount of brown fat in the body, so we’re still burning plenty of calories to keep us warm!
With all of these reasons to workout outside in the chilly, dark months aside, remember to layer up, wear sweat resistant and weather-proof clothing (so you don’t freeze) and make sure to drink plenty of fluids (as we get more dehydrated in the winter).
There you have it! Lace up, and get out there.