6 Benefits of Running in the Cold

6 Benefits of Running in the Cold
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When the weather turns cold, it can be challenging to lace up your shoes and head out for a run.

With all the right ways to run in the cold, and the proper gear, it still can be hard to convince yourself to get outside for a workout. Through the winter season, running in the cold helps keep your body happy, healthy, and strong. If you can brave the low temperatures, then you will be able to conquer anything that comes your way.

So lace up with the 6 benefits of running in the cold to fight the winter blues and live a healthy life all year long.

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1. Enhances Endurance

Running in the cold enhances your endurance by forcing all the systems in your body to work together. The cold is a force to be reckoned with and is a hard contender for your muscles to overcome. When you press your body against the winter chill and push through the boundaries of your limitation, then you can overcome any race or challenge in life.

When you test your endurance levels in the cold, running during the warmer months will feel like a gentle breeze in comparison. Running in the snow also is a great workout that will increase your race times. When you run in terrain that slows your pace, it activates your muscles to work more powerfully. It may feel like you are moving slow, but in reality it is building up your endurance for stronger performance.

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2. Gives An Immunity Boost

Contrary to popular belief, running in the cold does not get you sick. Cold weather actually helps give your immune system a boost to fight against the cold and flu season. Staying inside can be warm and cozy, but it is less enjoyable when you have caught the common cold. When you are outside in the elements you are more in the open air, rather than in the same circulation air that is indoors.

Low-intensity shivers are also known to help your body fight the cold, but by no means will you be completely immune. It simply helps your body respond quicker and be ready for a potential attack of the flu. Getting outside in the chilly weather will help you spend less time inside recovering, and more time enjoying the simple pleasures of the winter season.

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3. Builds Mental Toughness

When you dare yourself to take on the cold, you are building mental toughness. Winter running is not for the faint of heart, which means you are a winter warrior if you can brave the cold. As you mentally push through what many runners do not attempt, you will be able to conquer new personal records with ease.

However, know the early signs of hypothermia and when it is time to head back home and warm up. Anyone who has prior conditions of asthma, exercised-induced bronchitis, or a preexisting heart condition should not consider running in the cold as it can worsen your condition. Be mindful of what your body can handle and only run in the cold if your body can physically handle the demands.

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If your body can physically handle the demands, then you will be ready to take on the winter season with a fierce determination. Stick to familiar routes and always be sure to tell someone where you are headed, just in case of an emergency.

4. Burns Calories Faster

Conquering the cold burns calories at a faster rate than warmer temperatures. Your body stores “brown fat”, which activates warmth and calorie burning fat that helps regulate body temperature. For those who are more actively outside in the cold, it can burn faster and contribute to weight loss. It is not a guaranteed weight loss plan to run outside in the cold, but it can help maintain or increase your fitness level for a stronger body.

Whether you are gearing up to run, or supplementing your workouts with winter sports, you can keep your fitness level even during the winter season. Be mindful of how well you can tolerate the cold, but do not be afraid to venture outside for a great workout. Picking up running again in the springtime will not seem so challenging if you have been active all winter.

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5. Encourages Circulation

Pumping your lungs and heart to keep a warm body temperature encourages circulation throughout the body. Good blood flow helps you recover faster and keeps injury from butting into your schedule. As your body tries to stay warm during frigid temperatures, it shuttles your blood from the edge of your skin back to your heart to keep warm.

Allowing your body to be exposed to a little cold helps your blood vessels in your skin to be more responsive. Thus, the reason your cheeks turn a rosy color when outside. The cold also helps keep potential inflammation from bothering your system. Be sure to be properly layered to maintain a healthy warm temperature that will help you stay outside for longer, and help you conquer those needed winter miles for training.

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6. No More Winter Blues

Running outside even when it is cold means no more winter blues. Many suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder that effects their mood when the sun is only outside for a little while. Luckily, the benefit to running outside is soaking in much needed Vitamin D that keeps your body happy and healthy. When you can fight against Seasonal Affective Disorder, you can have a more pleasant winter season full of cherished memories.

Studies show that when you exercise outside, the less perceived exertion you have, which helps you manage more miles than you would on a treadmill. Nature is also a natural medicine that can help you overcome the winter blues and create meaningful moments with the ones you love. Grab a friend and conquer the snowy trail to soak in that Vitamin D and overcome the darker months of winter.

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Dare to be in the cold with the rewarding experience of being out in nature and keeping your body healthy.

Bethany Widdicombe

Bethany Widdicombe

Bethany Widdicombe is a runner at heart, a researcher by nature, and a writer by passion. Having traveled across the world, she continues to be an advocate for awareness and knowledge that empowers people to a better life. You can now find her running out on the trail, or nestled away writing her next article.

Portland, OR