Getting enough exercise is extremely important to your health, and one of the most common forms that people take up is running. Getting out into the fresh open air can do wonders for your body, but what do you do when it turns into winter, and the chilliness sets in?
One of the best ways to deal with running in the cold is to arm yourself with the best cold weather running gear so that you’re ready to take on anything the winter weather throws at you. While the idea of running outside in the cold may not exactly be the most appealing thing in the world, it is actually quite good for you. So, keep reading and discover the top 10 benefits of running in the winter.
- Keep Away The Winter Blues
During the winter months, everything gets darker early, and the lack of sunshine can really get you down. Lots of people actually suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is something that effects your mental health in the colder months. However, if you are able to maintain your regular exercise routine during the winter, your body will produce more serotonin and dopamine which help you to feel happier.
One study showed that if you have SAD and run for just 30 minutes a day, you can actually avoid it from occurring during the winter that year. While running won’t cure all your mental health issues, regular exercise has been shown to improve them. So, if you want to keep your mind happy even on the coldest days, make sure you go for a chilly, winter run.
- Reduce Your Chances Of Getting Sick
As well as helping your mental health, running in the cold could actually improve your physical health by boosting your immune system. When you’re outside in nature, it’s said to have a restorative effect on your body, helping you to recover and improve your overall health.
One study actually showed that being outside can actually increase the white blood cells in your body which means you have a heightened immunity to illness. Having a healthy immune system at this time of year is especially important, as there are always so many nasty illnesses going around. To really combat those winter colds, make sure you don’t stay indoors and get running!
- Running Can Be Easier In The Cold
While the thought of running in the icy weather might not seem like it will be easy, but in reality, it’s actually a whole lot easier! If you think about running in the height of summer, you’ll probably be wearing the bare minimum and be downing water whenever you get the chance. This can actually be way more taxing on your body than if you were to run in the colder weather.
Most marathons are held during the colder months, as it’s really that much better to run when you’re cold than when you’re hot. Your body can recover much faster in the cold and you’re way less likely to become dehydrated, so it makes perfect sense as to why running events are held later in the year.
- Support Your Metabolism All Support Your Metabolism All Year Round
Typically, our bodies slow down in the winter and try to store fat to keep warm. This can mean that your metabolism also suffers and makes it harder for you to shift any holiday weight you might be wanting to lose in the new year. However, if you keep up with your running routine throughout the winter, you should be able to maintain your functioning metabolism. By continuing with running outdoors, your body will essentially stay in your regular mode and keep burning energy and fat as usual.
- Burn More Fat
Speaking of burning fat, it’s actually said that running in colder weather helps you to burn a lot more fat than if you were running in warmer temperatures. In your body, there are two types of fat: white and brown, with white fat being what you want to get rid of. Studies have recently shown running in winter-like temperatures could possibly convert white fat into brown, allowing you to drastically reduce the amount of “bad” fat within your body and burn more calories.
- Quicker Recovery Times
Running in cold temperatures can be a great way to avoid inflammation of the body when exerting yourself. This then means that your recover will be a lot faster, as your body won’t be inflamed and prone to injury. A great tip is to do your warm up inside, and then head on out. This way you can get running straight away, instead of trying to force yourself to get going in the chilly weather. Even though you may be able to perform better when running outside in the winter, this doesn’t mean you won’t be able to recover well at all. In fact, you’ll find that you recover a lot better, and are able to beat your own personal records thanks to how easy running outside can be.
- Increase Your Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for our bodies, and without it, you’ll soon notice how unwell you feel. In the winter, it’s fairly common for people to not get nearly as much vitamin D as they should. This is because during the colder months, people generally stay indoors in order to avoid the chilly weather. However, this can be detrimental to your health, as your vitamin D intake will decrease drastically. So, to make sure that you’re getting enough, why not go for your runs during the middle of the day when the sun is at its peak. Ensuring you get enough vitamin D all year round will help your bones to stay strong and it can actually alleviate symptoms of SAD. So, don’t let the frosty mornings stop you from putting on your running shoes!
- Eliminate Stress
Stress can be hard to deal with, and if you use running as a way to combat it, you shouldn’t stop doing so in the winter. Running has been shown to help lower your cortisol levels, which is the hormone that leads to stress, and boost your production of happy hormones like serotonin.
While you might not be able to avoid stress at this time of year, you can deal with it effectively and prevent yourself from feeling the holiday stress that usually happens. Try not to let the idea of being cold outside put you off going for a relaxing run, otherwise, you’ll find that all your previous stress comes back. Be sure to keep up with your routine, and you’ll find it much easier to stay calm throughout the most stressful time of year.
- Better Body Temperature Regulation
When you run in colder temperatures, chances are, you’re layered up good and proper to keep you warm on that first stretch of exercise. However, as you start to heat up, you can easily remove the layers as you go. This gives you much better control over your body temperature regulation, ensuring that you never overheat or become too cold. This then means that your performance will be enhanced, as you won’t be struggling to cope with how hot and dehydrated you are. You may notice that you also need to drink less water when running in the winter as you’ll sweat less and won’t become thirsty from the extreme heat of the sun.
- Maintain Your Routine
When people go running, they tend to follow a routine to help them stay on track. However, during the summer, it can become harder to follow as the heat prevents you from going outside. With record breaking temperatures keeping people indoors during the summer of 2022, it became impossible to go for a run outside, thus disrupting your routine. However, there isn’t really any type of winter weather that will prevent you from running outside. If it’s raining, wear waterproofs and if it’s snowing, wear thicker layers and non-slip trainers. There really isn’t anything that should prevent you from running during the winter, so it can really help you stick to your routine. Consistency is the key to improving when running as well, so you’ll probably see much more progress in the winter than you would in the summer.
Running in the winter should be something that everyone does if they enjoy exercise. It’s much less taxing on your body and it can help you to improve your performance through consistency and fast recovery. Don’t let a few snowflakes or rainy clouds put you off! There are plenty of different types of running gear that can prepare you for all types of winter weather, so there’s no excuse anymore. If you want to see and feel the benefits of running, then you should definitely continue it or pick it up during the winter, and you’ll be surprised at the results.
Running in the winter is not only great for your mental health, but it’s also fantastic for your physical health too. Before you know it, the sun will be shining again, and you’ll be longing for the frosty mornings to come back!