Winter and I don’t get along very well. It doesn’t matter if I throw on so many layers I look like a “South Park” character, I’m still cold. But over the years I’ve learned to suck it up—not just because I live in Canada and kinda sorta don’t have a choice, but because there are oodles of health benefits that come with this insanely cold weather.
Here are 5 reasons you should totally get your chill on:
1. You burn more calories
You can burn up to 30 percent more calories just by spending more time in cooler temperatures, according to a study in the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism. Doing so helps to increase the amount of brown fat in your body, which is the fat that helps your body burn energy in the form of heat. You’ll eventually feel more comfortable in the chilly temp, but will still burn calories aplenty as you attempt to keep warm.
2. It reduces inflammation
We put ice on an injury for a reason, so consider spending time outside during the winter months the all-body version of that. It’s why so many athletes turn to cryotherapy to aid recovery, a treatment where you chill in a chamber that’s minus 264 degrees for three minutes at a time.
3. It’s easier to avoid germs
As tempting as it is to go to the gym where it’s nice and warm, it’s also a cesspool of germs—especially when flu season comes around. It’s not as easy for germs to stick around in frigid temps, so take certain aspects of your workout outside when you can, such as ditching the treadmill for an outdoor run. (And apparently snowga is a thing now if you’re brave enough. You know, unlike me.)
4. You score more Vitamin D
One of the most important health benefits of a cold weather workout: Vitamin D. With things like seasonal affective disorder ready to cramp your style, any extra sun exposure you can add to your repertoire is a bonus. Just make sure to throw on sunscreen after your skin has been exposed for 10 to 15 minutes.
5. You feel happier
Word is a cold weather workout that may boost your mood: The frigid temp stimulates your bod into working overtime to stay warm, which increases the amount of endorphins you produce, leaving you with a stronger sense of happiness post-workout.
Which health benefits motivate you to workout in the winter?
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Image: Winter run photo via Shutterstock