With the winter season now we will be running in some colder weather. So many months spent complaining about the intense heat and humidity of summer, are now quickly being replaced with intense wind, and colder weather.
Since we know running is mental, let’s reframe winter running in to the perfect time to exercise outdoors.
There are many benefits of running in cooler weather in the winter, and after a few runs in cold weather, our body and mind will get more comfortable.
According to some research, to run or exercise for even 15-30 mins. in winter can provide us with many health benefits.
6 Benefits of Running in the Cold
If a morning run or night run just can’t be done outside in the cold, consider a shorter run at lunchtime for the mental benefits of being outside.
With the colder weather, using the treadmill for running once or twice a week can provide some different types of training benefits.
There is the mental side of getting ourself outdoors when it’s uncomfortable, but there are also some other benefits we might not realize with braving the elements.
Winter running does not need to be miserable, wearing our favourite comfortable winter training gear, especially running jackets, long sleeve tops, and winter gloves is going to help us enjoy these runs a whole lot more.
1. Winter Running Means Faster Recovery
We know that putting ice on an injury is not the ideal option because it slows healing, but it does reduce some inflammation. So running in colder weather might just be creating less inflammation during our run and speeding up our post-run recovery.
We should appreciate the advantage of this recovery, but we still need to do a good pre-run warm up.
When having to do our pre-run warm up for a run in cold weather, my favourite tip is to warm up indoors. To also perform some dynamic warm up exercises such as high knees, butt kicks, jumping jacks, it will help to activate our blood flow so we can start running feeling good
2. Running in Cold Weather Means Faster Paces with Less Effort
According to an in-depth study, the best race performances appear to happen around 5-10 degrees Celsius. And for every few degree rise in temperature, performance drops by 2.7 seconds per 1.5K. This was based on the top athletes, so it’s likely higher on the rest of us.
We will feel it easier to run faster during the winter, but it could be the reason for so many spring PR’s.
It turns out that the shivering, the searing lungs we feel, is training our body to use oxygen more efficiently.
3. Winter Running Boosts Our Immune System
Research found that being in nature resulted in a restorative experience.
It helps us getting away from stressful situations, while green spaces with natural light and shadows can also put in us in a reflective mood making us more reflective and open to options to resolve our situation.
A few other awesome study results:
Women who spent 6 hours in nature over the course of two days had an increase in white blood cells, well improved immunity.
Nature provides a break from the stimulus of our daily lives, improving great focus.
Running or walking in nature improves positive feelings and reduces levels of depression.
4. Vitamin D for Mood and Energy
You need it, the sun provides it, we need to go outside to absorb it.
This is one good health perk of nature, one reason many believe that Vitamin D is so good for our mood.
A surprising number of people are deficient of Vitamin D, which can cause weight gain, moodiness, lowered immune system and inflammation. All things that are going to slow our great running.
5. Enhanced Calorie Burn from Winter Workouts
WE do burn more calories when we run in the cold.
If running for weight loss is a goal, then we should let cold weather give us an extra boost.
Our body expends more energy attempting to raise our core temperature, which results in a higher calorie burn than an indoor training or workout.
Also we know that winter weather is also often accompanied by intense wind, which again requires more effort and can increase our energy burn.
If you are performing an athletic-level effort, running at higher levels or cycling hard, you are burning 10 to 40 percent more calories in the cold than you would in warmer temperatures.
Another surprising fact is that brown fat is activated in the cold, this is the good fat, the kind that burns off the fat we don’t want covering our hard earned muscles.
We should remember this higher calorie burn means we could run through our glycogen faster and need to fuel sooner.
6. Magical Silence of Winter Running
There’s something magical about being out in the quiet and early morning winter run or even an afternoon or evening run.
Not be connected to any screen time on our phone or laptop while we run outdoors, and having a moment just to enjoy the silence is rejuvenating on many levels..
The benefits of running in the cold are so evident, but we still need the reminder to look at the temperatures and start to think about all the necessary layers and gears we will need.
Running in Cold Weather We Are Very Lucky That We Can Push More, Run Faster, Runs Feel Easier, Mentally We Feel Happier and Warmer!