Nov 16, 2018
It’s cold and dark, the wind is howling, and the streets are covered in snow. The last thing you want to do is go out for a run. It can be difficult to stay motivated and keep up the same running habits in the winter; many decide to spend 5 months in the gym on a treadmill or track. However, as difficult as it is, research shows that running in colder temperatures has many health benefits! Some of these benefits include:
1. Boosts metabolism: eating more and exercising less is common in the winter months. Exercising in colder temperatures forces the body to burn more calories by regulating core temperatures, and pumping more blood throughout your body. This increases calorie burn during running and at rest.
2. Enhances performance: Running in cooler temperatures significantly decreases cardiovascular strain on the body, which helps to boost running performance. Tom Holland, author of The Marathon Method, states “the colder the weather, the less heat stress on the body, making it easier to run.”
3. SAD prevention: Getting outside also helps to ward off seasonal blues, by increasing your daily dose of vitamin D and releasing ‘feel good’ hormones to combat seasonal depression. One study published in the journal of Environmental Science found that people who ran outside reported increased energy and decreased feelings of sadness and anxiety.
Here are some helpful hints to have fun, keep warm, and stay injury free during the winter running season!
1. Wear the proper gear
- A good rule of thumb is to add 10-20 degrees to the outside temperature to calculate your running temperature. This might start with some trial and error, to see how many layers you need for certain temperatures. You want to start your run uncomfortably cool, with a moisture wicking fabric against your skin to keep sweat away and keep you warm and dry for longer. When you’re finished your run make sure to get out of your sweaty clothes as soon as possible! The body temperature drops quite quickly.
- Protect your extremities! A large amount of body heat (nearly 40%) is lost through your head, hands and feet. Be sure to cover up your ears, head, hands and feet especially in temperatures lower than 10 degrees.
- Icy sidewalks create dicey stability! You may want to invest in some trail runners or strap on metal spikes to the bottom of your shoes. It is also helpful to make shorter strides and keeping your centre of mass closer to the ground.
2. Warm up inside
- It is important not to start cold in cold temperatures. Take extra time to warm up inside with some dynamic stretches and jogging on the spot to raise the heart rate.
3. Be Seen
- Since there are fewer hours of sunlight during the winter months, you may find yourself running in the dark. This is a good opportunity to check out your neighbours’ Christmas lights, but make sure you choose routes that are well lit. Also, wear reflective clothing, and headlamps if you are running in complete darkness.
4. Pace yourself
- Especially when running through snow, it is important to allow the body to adjust to the different terrain. Snow creates uneven running surfaces; therefore, your stabilizing muscles are forced to work harder. Doing too much too soon increases your risk of injury.
Don’t let the winter months trap you on the treadmill. Time to lace up the joggers, bundle up and get out there!
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out over instagram, find me @keepingpace_pt or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cancer Research UK: (retrieved November 18/18). https://www.londonwinterrun.co.uk/news/running-winter-easier-body/
Holland, Tom. (2007). The Marathon Method: The 16-Week Training Program that Prepares You to Finish a Full or Half Marathon at Your Best Time. Fair Winds Press
Roe, J. (2016). Cities, Green Space, and Mental Well-being. Environment and Human Health, Environmental Sociology and Psychology.
Smith, J, (2009). ‘5 reasons why running in the cold is good for you.” Meredith Women’s Network.
Wissem D. Sellami, M. (2018). “Seasonal weather conditions affect training program efficiency and physical performance among special forces trainees: A long-term follow-up study.”