It’s a week or so before winter ends.
Instead of the gym, have you tried exercising out in the winter?
Just like a cold shower, a winter workout outdoors takes some getting used to.
Even for regular outdoor exercisers, it’s hard to envision a productive day with overcast skies and 20-degree weather.
The whole idea of a winter workout is to push yourself out of your comfort zone, regardless of your initial apprehension or aversion.
Here are a couple of reasons why winter workouts and the cold outdoors can do wonders for your body.
You Burn More Calories
I think we’ve all heard this plenty of times before. Working out or running in the cold helps you burn more calories than normal.
Technically it’s true because your body needs to burn more calories than normal to stay warm. But that burning phase stops once your body is warmed up sufficiently and when that happens, you stop burning those extra calories.
By being out in the cold and staying cold, your body is continually burning more calories.
You Feel Better
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Sunshine and nature have been found to help boost our mood. When you exercise, the physical activity itself is a mood booster that can banish the winter blues.
Working out can help to alleviate depression and anxiety. Over the long term, regular exercise combined with exposure to nature can effectively regulate your mood and stabilize your state of mind.
Research has shown that a deep connection to nature has been a facet of the human experience since the prehistoric ages. This was severed once rapid urbanization and industrialization took hold.
Not everyone can retreat to the mountains and train like Rocky in the snow, but just moving about outdoors daily is enough to make you feel better instantly.
Here are some physical activities that I’m going to warmly miss:
Snowshoeing is a great way to stay in shape during the winter months. Hiking and trekking in the snow are fun ways to explore nature, which is also less crowded this season.
Snowshoeing is also much more budget-friendly than say, skiing or snowboarding. All you need are your standard winter wear, snowshoes and poles, with the latter two easily available for rent at stores.
Depending on the terrain, you can expect a low to moderately intense aerobic workout. You may have to traverse up and down or wade yourself out from knee-deep snow. That said, snowshoeing is a manageable and beginner-friendly winter workout for just about anybody.
For those of you who work out at commercial gyms, it is not uncommon to see people pushing and pulling sleds on turf.
Winter sledding isn’t just for Santa. If you have a sled, you can attach a rope to it and load some heavy items on to add resistance.
While it isn’t necessary, you can also buy customized sleds or prowlers where you can load weight plates onto them. Those could be a good investment if you exercise outdoors in the summer as well.
Simple wood sleds can be modified with a few woodworking hacks to turn it into a push sled.
You can use the terrain to add more resistance by sledding uphill. Depending on how you plant your feet or heel, you can really put some serious burn on those hamstrings and glutes.
Want to stay warm in the winter? Chop firewood.
Chopping wood for as long as five minutes is enough to make you break out in a sweat.
You don’t need to be a lumberjack to know how to chop wood. It sounds simple to swing an axe, but your body utilizes multiple muscles to perform the swing and stabilize your position.
Chopping wood can engage the core, including your lower and upper back, shoulders, arms, chest, legs and glutes.
Repeated chopping can help to improve hip and shoulder stability and elevate your heart rate, which makes for a great cardio exercise.
You need proper alignment and well-honed techniques to chop wood efficiently. Without it, the whole motion feels more laborious.
There’s even a gym equivalent called ‘woodchoppers’ that mimics the swing of chopping wood but uses a medicine ball, dumbbell or cable machine instead.
Do take precautions if you are chopping firewood out in the open. Wear goggles and gloves.
Keep at it and you might find yourself at the Lumberjack World Championships in Wisconsin someday.