HARVARD MEN’S HEALTH OFFERS MOTIVATIONAL INFORMATION & ADVICE in an article "The Wonders of Winter Workouts", on the BENEFITS of cooler weather exercise (30- and 40-degrees).
The biggest benefit to exercising outdoors discussed in the article, in my opinion, is the exposure to daylight that is possible. Sunlight is a gift, but I’ll take any daylight when the forecast doesn’t call for sustained, cheery, bright, light.
However, let’s be clear that this article is likely aimed at people who regularly exert themselves physically and can be considered aerobically fit. Sedentary people, especially those with heart or lung disease, as the piece indicates, should be much more careful about taking exercise out of the house or gym and into the chillier streets and parks.
The American Heart Association further identifies who should be extra careful in the great cold outdoors. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/consumer-healthcare/cold-weather-and-cardiovascular-disease
Something else to consider is the added work that’s involved in exercising while wearing more clothes. Adjust expectations and plans accordingly. Try stepping on a scale before and after putting on all gear to get an idea of the extra weight that will be carried, including water bottles. Realize it will be more difficult and tiring to navigate snowy or icy paths in boots or heavier trail shoes than vented summer-season athletic shoes, while wearing bulky outerwear. Cut sessions in half initially and gauge exertion levels before planning to go all-out .
Although staying warm is important, care should be taken not to dress such that overheating is likely to occur. Layering is a great tactic if shed clothing doesn’t need to be carried but can be dropped or stored and picked up later. I’ve carried an extra hat, earmuffs, neck gaiter, and insulated mittens for miles and found it exhausting and awkward.
The easiest way to avoid unexpected problems is to plot a short, cold weather specific, exercise loop from a starting point that serves as a safe stop to access essentials, warm up, hydrate, or cool down as needed, based on weather conditions. And to change the battery on a out-of charge mobile phone that is carried for emergencies. Your home or car will be most convenient. A one mile loop never leaves you more than a half mile away from the anchor safe point.
There will be more winter weather topic discussions. Hopefully, the cautions in this post and the HMH article won’t discourage outdoor exercise. If unconvinced that you’ll LOVE IT, consider scheduling at least one session on a day that forecasted to be mostly sunny. The lift in spirits it can provide might be addicting.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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