Benefits of Cold Weather Exercise

By Larraine Roulston:

The month of January generally sees a rise in gym memberships. The idea of improving one’s fitness, however, should not be restricted to indoor workouts only. Looking for ways to exercise outside can be, in many ways, even more beneficial.

 In northern Ontario, where I live, the snow remains lovely and white from December until April. The temperature during those 5 months averages approximately -10 C.In Canada, northern regions of the U.S. and in other countries, many people of all ages love skating, as well as cross-country and downhill skiing. Youngsters who grew up skating on outdoor rinks have become some of the best hockey and figure skating athletes. I have always marveled at winter bikers who know how to dress for their daily commute. These hardy souls arrive at their workplaces in good physical and mental shape. It’s been documented that those who walk to work are better prepared to begin the day’s tasks. Daytime jogs and evening walks are invigorating. The only exercise one should not overdo is shoveling driveways and sidewalks.

 As your body needs to work harder to counteract heat, it has been suggested that people might even perform better in cold weather, rather than in warm spaces. While the body generates heat during exercise, two things are key — keep moving and do not overdress.  In fact, you should feel rather cool before setting out. Kentucky’s University of Louisville lab director in exercise physiology, Mike Jett, told Medium, “Working out in an intentionally hot room does not make sense from a performance standpoint.”

 Dr. Shingo Kajimura of the University of California studied the effect of cold-weather exercise on metabolism, and claims that you will also lose weight more effectively. Kajimura focuses on the function of the body’s fat cells as well as energy balance and metabolism. He notes that the act of shivering burns a lot of calories and says, “Shivering is a very energy-demanding and tiring process.” If, therefore, your exercising intent is to lose weight, cold weather may help you attain your objective.

 Other surprising benefits include the following:

 Boosting Your Immune System: According to a studyby the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, exercising in cold weather conditions regularly reduces your risk of flu susceptibility by 20-30%.

 Raising Your Metabolism: All athletic stimulation gives you a boost; however, research shows that working out in the cold helps to increase metabolism.

 Aiding Circulation: To protect against heart disease and strive for a healthier heart, cold weather exercising will increase your heart rate and blood flow.

 Coping to Relieve the Winter Blues: With fewer daylight hours to absorb vitamin D, some people feel a bit low. When bracing against colder weather, the endorphins released through exercise will allow you to feel more active.

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 Larraine writes children’s illustrated adventure books on composting and pollinating.  Visit, www.castlecompost.com

Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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