Sure, it is frigid outside, and jogging in chilly weather might not feel quite as natural as when it’s warm and sunny. But before you retreat to the treadmill (visit [MY_REDIRECT_PREFIX]https://www.shape.com/fitness/cardio/best-treadmills-under-1000), consider this: Running in the cold may actually feel easier, help you achieve your fitness objectives, keep your metabolism going strong, and enhance your mood.
Here, experts break down the most significant health benefits of running in cold weather and share their best advice for warming up, gearing up, and excelling in your freezing run.
5 Advantages of Running In Cold Weather
The weather outside may be dreadful, but the advantages of running in cold weather are so delightful. Here’s what you can gain from jogging in lower temperatures.
Frigid conditions are actually the ideal weather for running.
Believe it or not, chilly weather is actually the ideal condition for your run, says Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist, sports performance coach, and author of The Marathon Method. “The colder the weather, the less heat stress on the body, which makes it significantly easier to run,” explains Holland. “Running in hot and humid weather is extremely taxing on the body — there is a reason why the majority of marathons are held in October and November.”
Running outdoors can help you stay active.
Getting yourself to the gym can be a challenge in itself (especially during the winter months), and a treadmill at home can get boring — but running in cold weather will never get dull. It’s free, convenient, and will help you stay active when you’d rather binge-watch Bridgerton. “We tend to move less and eat more in the colder months,” says Holland. “Running burns significant calories and is therefore a powerful tool in maintaining and even losing weight during winter.” Pounding the pavement, in general, could help you live longer, too; runners have a 25 to 40 percent reduced risk of premature mortality and live about three years longer than non-runners, according to a 2017 study published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.
Running outdoors can boost your mood.
“When the days get shorter and the temperature plummets, many people suffer from Seasonal Affect Disorder,” says Holland.
Running aids in the release of potent hormones that assist in battling this depressive state, heightening favorable emotional states during the chilly months of the year.
Furthermore, by engaging in your running regimen outdoors, you can enhance your mood to an even greater extent. One study featured in the journal Environmental Science and Technology revealed that individuals who exercised in an outdoor environment reported heightened vitality, reduced feelings of melancholy, and displayed a greater likelihood of regularly repeating their workout sessions.
Running in freezing weather could potentially keep your metabolism persevering powerful.
“If you have faith in the concept of evolution, our bodies are coded to conserve our fat supplies in the winter, reducing the speed of our metabolisms in direct response to our decreased levels of physical activity,” affirms Holland. “Engaging in running in the cold functions as a means to deceive the body, preventing this seasonal deceleration of metabolism and aiding in the maintenance of a healthy weight.”
Running in freezing weather might aid in the burning of a greater number of calories.
Reminder: Burning calories should not be the singular reason why you choose to engage in running in freezing weather, and there are numerous other health advantages that accompany pounding the pavement. However, if you are interested in calories, be aware that frigid temperatures can influence a specific type of body fat to transform into a kind that incinerates calories. In case you didn’t know, there are diverse classifications of body fat, including white, brown, and intermediate shades. White fat is generally perceived as “unwanted” body fat. Brown fat refers to metabolic tissue that burns calories, and there is an expanding collection of scientific literature that suggests that physical exercise and exposing the body to cold temperatures prompt the conversion of white fat into brown. (More information on the scientific aspects of building muscle and burning fat.) This signifies that running in freezing weather could not only help you burn calories but also alter your body composition.
Tips for Ensuring Safety while Running In Cold Weather
Equipped with appropriate attire and the right mindset, traversing a fresh snowfall while running can be an enchanting experience. “There is nothing more peaceful and aesthetically pleasing than running through a wintry paradise,” expresses Jess Underhill, running coach and founder of Race Pace Wellness. “It frequently becomes a serene and tranquil meditation.” Consequently, with fewer individuals engaging in pavement-pounding, your preferred route or trail will probably be less congested too. “Winter is protracted, and venturing outdoors is beneficial for the mind,” declares Underhill. “It will make you feel like a warrior.”
Below, Underhill and other running experts provide insights on what you need to be aware of to ensure safety while running in freezing weather.
Warm Up Indoors
To begin, warm up indoors with uncomplicated dynamic stretches such as overhead walking lunges, bodyweight squats, and leg swings prior to embarking on your run in freezing weather. “Commencing your run with a warm body makes it much simpler to step out the door,” suggests Underhill.
Don’t fret about perspiring as long as you commence jogging promptly. “You’ll remain sufficiently heated to avoid chills,” affirms Underhill.
Jason Fitzgerald, a certified coach accredited by USA Track & Field and the creator of Strength Running, suggests an eight-minute dynamic warm-up with 10 to 20 repetitions of each of the subsequent exercises: walking deadlifts, knee embraces, groiners, donkey kicks, mountain climbers, iron cross, lunge matrix, leg swings, and lateral leg swings. This routine will elevate heart rate, raise core body temperature, and improve range of motion. Additionally, it will promote blood circulation and provide lubrication to the joints. “By following this warm-up routine, you can prevent muscle strains and joint injuries,” comments Sean M. Wells, D.P.T., A.T.C./L., C.S.C.S., a fitness specialist at bistroMD.
Adjust Your Anticipations
It is unrealistic to expect every winter run to be as fast as your previous ones. “Running in winter conditions such as snow, ice, or wind will inevitably slow you down and make it more challenging. Therefore, paces that felt comfortable during autumn will not be as easy during the winter,” advises Fitzgerald. Furthermore, “as the temperature drops below 40 degrees, your performance in the cold may decline,” warns Wells. “Blood vessels in peripheral areas constrict, joints become stiffer, and muscles take longer to warm up.”
“Instead of fixating on your GPS watch’s pace, focus on exertion level during this period,” adds Underhill. Moreover, keep in mind that your body will take longer to warm up. “Your muscles need more time to settle into their normal pace as they warm up. However, once your body is warmed up, temperature will have less impact on your pace compared to heat and humidity,” explains Fitzgerald. “Running at a fast pace is easier in cooler temperatures than in hot weather.”
Prepare for Potential Slips
Frigid temperatures and precipitation can result in icy surfaces along your running route. Fortunately, there are precautions you can take to ensure stability while running in cold weather, according to Mike Ross, an exercise physiologist at Gottlieb Center for Fitness, which is part of the Loyola University Health System. Firstly, evaluate the tread on your running shoes. If they are worn out, they will not provide the necessary traction. For running on ice and snow, consider using slip-on traction devices designed for running shoes, as they enhance each step’s grip. (If you notice any of these indicators, it is likely that you are wearing inappropriate footwear for your workout.)
Secondly, plan ahead. Consider the scenario if you were to fall anywhere along your route. Would you be able to seek assistance? If not, outline an alternate safer path and ensure that you have your cell phone with you.
And once more, decelerate while jogging in chilly climate. Attempting to maintain your regular speed when it’s frosty outside pushes your equilibrium.
Protect Your Limbs
If you’ve ever constructed a snowman, skied, or skated outdoors, you are aware that fingers and toes become exceptionally cold. “The most significant concern with engaging in outdoor activities during winter is the possibility of frostbite,” states Wells. Ensure that you shield your hands and ears, and turn back if your skin begins to sting or feel numb (particularly on your nose and chin, areas that are more challenging to cover).
Keep your feet dry while running in cold weather by investing in a pair of Gore-Tex running shoes with a waterproof, windproof, and breathable liner. Asics, Brooks, New Balance, Saucony, and other brands offer a variety of these sturdy shoes for the road. And don’t forget your socks: Opt for wool tech pairs that cover your ankles and wick away sweat instead of choosing no-show styles.
Wrap Up Your Skin
Winter wind and sun can cause havoc on your skin. Fitzgerald suggests covering your face with Vaseline or BodyGlide to safeguard your body’s largest organ while running in cold weather. Wearing a scarf or mask over your mouth and nose also works well and makes breathing easier. Underhill also recommends using a product like Aquaphor to protect your lips.
And don’t overlook the sun when running in cold weather, particularly at higher altitudes during your winter ski vacation. The sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays that contribute to skin cancer remain a threat in winter. “Irrespective of the time of year or where they reside, runners should always wear sunscreen when participating in outdoor activities!” claims Jessica Hunter-Orange, a physician and runner who practices dermatology at the London Skin Disorders Clinic in London, Ontario. “Reapply sunscreen fully every hour when running.” Dr. Hunter suggests using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher that provides protection against UVA and UVB rays, along with an SPF lip balm.
Select Appropriate Attire for Warmer Conditions
As a general guideline for running in cold weather, dress for a temperature that is 10 to 25 degrees higher than the actual outside temperature, taking into account personal preference. “Running generates a significant amount of body heat, so you will feel warmer than the outside temperature, especially with the appropriate gear,” claims Fitzgerald.
Experiment and determine what works best for you. “After your run, take note of how you would dress differently during your next run, if at all,” suggests Underhill.
Use your jogging log to jot down what you donned for diverse weather circumstances so that the subsequent time you step out the door you’ll be aware precisely how to apparel. For instance, you might unearth that a lightweight running jacket operates more effectively for you than a denser insulated one.
, says Underhill. “And let me tell you, there is no such thing as ‘too cold’ for them. As long as you dress appropriately and take precautions, you can still run in extremely cold temperatures.” However, if the temperature drops below -20 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s time to consider staying inside. “At that point, the risk of frostbite and hypothermia is too high,” says Underhill. Listen to your body and use common sense. If it feels too cold or the weather conditions are dangerous, it’s best to stay home and find an indoor alternative for your workout.
With the correct winter running apparel, you have the ability to jog through nearly all circumstances,” expresses Fitzgerald. “However, if the temperature drops below -20 degrees Fahrenheit, it may be advisable to remain indoors.