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June 4th, 2024

Whether you spend a day hiking the mountains, time in the gym or an hour enjoying a brisk run, winter exercise can help improve your mood, mind and body. Health and sports scientists have studied seasonal affective disorder (SAD) for years and found that individuals who saw winter as a full opportunity and not a limiting time of the year experienced greater well being which included more positive emotions, greater life satisfaction and personal growth. So today we dive into the top 5 advantages of winter exercise and why you should embrace winter as a time of the year improve your mood, mind and body.

1. Boosts Mood

Reduced light and warmth in the winter can make the outdoors less appealing. This is can lead to reduced time spent in the sun and lead to potential health challenges like SAD. Exercising in winter is a great way to combat SAD and keep your mood elevated. Physical activity during the colder months increases the release of endorphins, the feel-good hormones, which can elevate mood and reduce symptoms of SAD. Additionally, exposure to natural light during outdoor winter workouts can enhance serotonin levels, further improving mood and combating the winter blues. Research studies have shown that regular exercise in winter can effectively alleviate symptoms of SAD and promote overall mental well-being (Rosen et al., 2019). So, staying active during winter is not just good for the body but also for the mind.

2. Strengthens Immune System

Winter exercise is indeed a fantastic way to give your immune system a much-needed boost. By staying active during the colder months, you’re helping your body become more resilient to common winter illnesses. Research has shown that regular physical activity can really amp up your immune system, making it easier for your body to fight off those pesky colds and flu (Campbell & Turner, 2018). The J curve illustrates the relationship between exercise and immunity. The curve indicates that individuals that are sedentary and who exercise too intensely can have a reduced immune response. So to help fight off those winter bugs, try keeping your exercise to a moderate level and include plenty of rest to help with recovery. By staying active, you’re helping your body defend against colds and flu that tend to peak during the winter season. Regular physical activity can enhance your immune response, making you more resilient to illnesses that are more common in colder weather.

3. Burns More Calories

Being physically active during the colder months is not only great for boosting your immune system but also for burning more calories. When you stay active in the colder months, your body works harder to keep warm, which can lead to burning more calories than in warmer weather. Research has shown that exercising in colder temperatures can increase the body’s calorie expenditure to maintain body temperature (Cannon & Nedergaard, 2011). So, by braving the cold and staying active during winter, you’re not only keeping fit but also potentially burning more calories along the way. It’s like a bonus calorie burn during your winter workouts. This can be beneficial for managing your weight and keeping your metabolism in check.

4. Improves Cardiovascular Health

Get your cardio or exercise done in winter for a double win – it not only boosts your immune system but also improves your cardiovascular health. When you work out in the cold, your heart has to work harder to keep you warm, which is like a cardio workout in itself. Research has shown that exercising in colder temperatures can enhance cardiovascular health by increasing heart rate and circulation (Cannon & Nedergaard, 2011). So, by crushing those winter workouts, you’re not only strengthening your heart but also reaping the benefits of a stronger cardiovascular system.

5. Builds Mental Toughness

Exercising in the cold weather can also help build mental resilience and toughness. Overcoming the challenges of winter workouts, whether it’s braving the cold or pushing through tough conditions, can strengthen your mind and enhance your determination. This mental toughness can translate into other areas of your life, helping you face challenges with confidence. So, don’t let the winter chill keep you indoors!

Embrace the season and all the benefits that winter exercise has to offer. Stay active, stay healthy, and enjoy all the positive benefits that staying active during winter can bring to your mood, mind and body.

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