As the days get shorter, and the number on the thermometer starts to descend, the natural inclination is to cuddle up with a blanket, a cup of tea and good Netflix series. It might seem like it’s time to retire the summer exercise regimen altogether or for the die-hards, it might mean moving an avid walking or jogging routine to the gym instead.
With the pandemic still looming, and gyms being a gathering space that not everyone is interested in frequenting, it could leave some people wondering how they will manage to keep off that pesky winter weight. According to, Rebecca Blake, the Senior Director of Clinical Nutrition at Mt. Sinai, average winter weight gain can be anywhere between 5 and 10 pounds. That is likely due to a combination of all the decadent fall and winter foods present during the holidays, and the colder, darker days that are not as conducive to outdoor activities. Plus with the shorter days, there is just less daylight to actually get outside and exercise.
However, it turns out that it might behoove us to continue our summer routines, despite the drop in temperature. Studies show that working out in cold weather is actually beneficial for a variety of reasons.
- Taking a brisk midday walk in winter is a great way to score some precious sunlight, helping with Vitamin D absorption and improving mood.
- Outdoor exercise boosts immunity, which is imperative during cold and flu season.
- The act of shivering not only generates heat, it also burns calories. The exact number of calories appears to be 5 times what you would burn watching “Ozark.”
- Cold weather exercise transforms white fat into brown fat. You might be thinking that you don’t care what color your fat is, you’d rather not have it at all; but the good news is that brown fat is the type of fat that actually burns calories. Turns out brown fat is activated by cold, and uses calories to make heat rather than energy like white fat.
- Your body can regulate temperature better in the cold. This means that you can actually exercise for longer in colder temperatures.
- Exercising in extreme temperatures enhances endurance.
So as you can see, colder temperatures are no reason to stay inside. The best thing you can do when you feel a chill in the air is to layer up, and head outside for some exercise, whether that means walking, jogging, snowshoeing (if there is some snow on the ground), shoveling or riding a bike. Chances are that once you get started, you’ll actually start to like it. If you’re dressed in layers and the appropriate gear, you’ll be doing your body a ton of good.
Plus you can always reward yourself with a hot cup of cocoa or soup once you get back inside, and you’ll feel great for having integrated some movement into your day.
Schmidt, Amanda. “Skip the gym this season: Why Exercising in Cold Weather is So Beneficial for Your Health.” AccuWeather. Aug. 7, 2020.