Life Wellbeing Five not-so-obvious reasons to keep exercising in winter

Five not-so-obvious reasons to keep exercising in winter

Exercising in winter may be even more important than working out in summer. Photo: Getty
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Whatever puts you off about exercising outdoors during winter – rain, wind, darkness – think about this.

The benefits of exercising in cold conditions easily outweigh the results of training outside during the summer months.

“One of the best things about winter training is that the human body expends more energy to stay warm in winter,” Larry Cohen, founder of national outdoor training group Step into Life, told The New Daily.

“This means you burns more calories when training outdoors in winter than in summer.”

If that’s not enough to inspire you to pull on a fleece and hit the track tomorrow, here are five top reasons why you should brave the cold with your winter exercise.

Mood booster

If you find yourself retreating – or worse, feeling down – during winter you’re not alone.

And we all know that going for that walk or jog after work is not as appealing when the sun has gone down.

But the good news is research shows aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, cycling or jogging and resistance or strength training such as weight-lifting are helpful in treating depression.

Vital vitamin D

Curtin University research released this month revealed Australians are more vitamin D deficient than ever before, with Victoria and the ACT recording the highest levels.

Researcher Rachel Cheang said our bodies are not seeing enough sunlight largely because we’re spending less time outdoors than our ancestors did.

Exercising outdoors will boost your Vitamin D intake, which in turn strengthens bones by helping calcium absorption, and may also be important for immunity against bacteria and viruses.

Germ alert

Given there are more than 200 types of viruses that can cause the common cold, avoiding highly populated, communal, indoor areas, such as the gym, may be a smart move when it comes to winter exercise.

It’s not possible to be immunised against a cold, but you can reduce your risk of getting ill.

High energy effort

When exercising outdoors during winter your body expends more energy to stay warm than it needs to during summer training.

This means your heart works harder and you burn more kilojoules.

What’s more, studies comparing the exertion of running on a treadmill versus running outside found those who run outdoors use more energy to cover the same distance.

Group training

Training with others during winter provides the added bonus of being accountable to someone else, especially if you’re a serial snooze button pusher.

“Winter provides an amazing feeling of ‘paying my dues’, and it’s even better when you enjoy this post-training high with others,” Cohen said.

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