The benefits, the downsides and the how-to

In cold weather your body uses more energy to stay warm, so #running in winter burns calories faster. Click To Tweet

In winter, we tend to spend more time indoors, eat more and get a little lazier. The cold, dark days are not great for motivation. Serotonin levels drop, making us crave more sugar and starch.

Working out at home is a good way to fight off the winter blues, but I also really like mixing it up by getting outside for a run. A big gulp of fresh air keeps my motivation high for other types of exercise, my mind is invigorated and gives my skin a healthy glow (admittedly, at first it just goes red, but fast forward about an hour and there’s the glow 😉 )

Even if the idea of running on cold winter days seems a little crazy or you think you’re not tough enough, don’t throw in the towel before you give it a proper go. Consider this –

The Benefits 

  1. In cold weather your body uses more energy to stay warm, so running in winter burns calories faster.
  2. Exercise outdoors brings your serotonin levels right up. Your mood is better, and you are more motivated for both exercise and work.
  3. It keeps the winter bulge at bay. Since we’re likely to eat more during the cold season, it only makes sense to exercise more as well.
  4. Come summer, you will feel more confident in your body and be ready to run further and/or faster.
  5. Stepping out of your comfort zone and persisting makes you feel badass. You’re more likely to take on other challenges and to succeed.

The Downsides 

  1. People often worry about slippery surfaces and it’s a legitimate concern, but appropriate shoes massively reduce the risk.
  2. In cold weather, it’s especially important not to skip the warm up. Add the time needed to wrap up in layers, and a little jog in winter always ends up taking more time than in summer.
  3. If you live in a big city like London, making the most of cold, sunny days is great, but it may be worth checking air pollution levels. Sometimes it’s worth changing your route to avoid areas with a lot of busy roads.

Tips to Make it Happen 

  1. Don’t overdress. The last thing you want is cold sweat on your back. Think 10-15 degrees warmer than if you were going for a walk. You might also want to invest in a moisture wicking base layer. Your body will stay dry and you will avoid the wind-chill.
  2. Accessorize. Wear a hat and gloves. If your head tends to get hot, try a band to protect only your ears and forehead from the cold.
  3. Start by running during daylight hours. It’s easier to brave the cold when it’s not dark.
  4. Start small. A quick run doesn’t mean you have to go fast. Go slow. You don’t have to go far either. Actually, just go. You don’t even have to break a sweat at first. Fifteen minutes of light jogging is much better for your body than slouching on the couch.
  5. Some women report being intimidated by running alone. Find a buddy, and let your confidence grow with time.
  6. Breathe in through the nose. The air will travel a longer way through your body and warm up before it hits the lungs.
  7. Take a hot shower straight after. It will feel amazing and you will want that feeling again.
  8. Eat well. You don’t want to stuff yourself right before going out, but a wholesome meal a couple of hours later will keep your body warm and your energy high.
  9. Stay hydrated. It’s easy to forget about water when it’s chilly, but you still need to drink extra water. When your runs get longer, buy yourself one of those funny bottles with a handle and keep sipping on the go.
  10. Warm up before leaving the house. It’s the only way to keep injuries at bay and prepare your body to reap the rewards from your run.