It’s time to accept it: winter here and it is cold. So what does this mean in terms of fitness? Intramural leagues move indoors, and even the elite runners are choosing the treadmill over the cold, harsh winds.
Training outside is uncomfortable. But it’s also great for you! Many of you may stop reading right here, but if you choose to read on your eyes may just be open to the benefits that outdoor cold weather training have on your body.
Our bodies are incredible. That is a theme that I’ll certainly come back to the more I write about fitness. It builds muscle by tearing it and building it up again stronger than before. That way way it can withstand the weight that it previously couldn’t.
The concept is the same with cold weather. Every time we train our body adjusts and adapts. Our bodies take weakness and turn it into strength. On day 1 we’re going to hate the cold. We’re going to have difficulty breathing. But as we commit and progress, our bodies can handle colder and colder temperatures.
Alright now lets get to specifics. Besides the obvious of your cold weather tolerance improving through your body’s adaptation abilities, here are some benefits of fighting through the cold for your workouts:
Mental Strength: Committing to train in the cold starts the process right away. You’re saying to yourself that regardless of being uncomfortable, you’re going to fight through it for the benefits that you can achieve.
Next, each day you go for a run you are following through on your commitment and shrugging off the difficulty of the cold and emerging better for it. That translates to life, my friends. Persevering through strife to come out a better person. Alright that’s deep enough let’s hear more benefits.
Heart and Cardiovascular Strength: Your heart works harder when it’s cold to pump blood to the rest of your body. But, because the body is amazing, training will help improve the heart’s functionality, improving its health and circulation. This also protects against heart disease.
As I mentioned before, it can be hard to breath in the cold. Again, this is great training for your body! Exercising in the cold trains your cardiovascular system to more efficiently utilize oxygen. More efficient oxygen usage means running longer and harder, which means increasing athletic performance as a whole.
Vitamin D: Many people are Vitamin D deficient and don’t even know it. This is often because of the amount of time we spend indoors, which only increases during winter. Vitamin D is essential, helping to promote muscle and bone growth in the body, and helping resist disease and health issues.
Vitamin D is absorbed through sun exposure, and we can get our daily dose through only 10-15 minutes of being outdoors per day. Vitamin D also boosts energy and mood, which is vital during winter for combating seasonal affective disorder, and putting us in a more positive mood in general.
With these benefits in mind, challenge yourself to get outdoors and workout this winter. If you’re a runner, continue to run outdoors. If you’re like me and hate running, find a park that has a pull-up bar or dip bars and do some calisthenics. Even if you’re not inclined to do intensive workouts, go outside and stretch or do yoga!
Through outdoor training only a couple of days a week, you can achieve health benefits that can really change your body for the better. The cold is rough and the cost is steep. But the benefits outweigh the cost by far. Who knows, maybe after a while you’ll even find yourself enjoying the cold!