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Chicago Outdoor Winter Exercise

Chicago Outdoor Winter Exercise - Jean Ward - Chicago Lake CondosAre you a die-hard outdoor activity buff, even in the sub-freezing temperatures?  If you’re not I’ll give you a few reasons to change your mind.

1)  Cold weather exercise can burn more calories. 

While low temperature itself does not dictate more calories being burnt during exercise, race times are faster in cold weather than in warm weather, according to research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.  Quicker runs equate to more calories burnt.  Additionally, prolonged exposure to temperatures drastically lower than your body temperature, as well as perspiration to lower body temperature demand extra energy, thereby burning more calories, according to the American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide.

2)  Outdoor activity in cold weather makes you happier. 

Because your body has to work harder during exercise in the cold, your endorphin production is boosted, resulting in a higher level of pleasure.   Endorphins are also found to be motivational, particularly in running, and help the body feel energized throughout the day.

3)  Light exposure from an outdoor workout can boost your mood and immunity. 

As little as fifteen minutes a day can provide sufficient daily amounts of vitamin D.  For those with seasonal affective disorder, which is a condition brought on by the shorter, darker days of the winter months, cold weather activity outside can help fight depression.

Take precaution, though, by stretching well before vigorous activity, dressing in layers, covering your extremities, keeping dry, and staying hydrated.  The Mayo Clinic offers tips for cold weather exercise.  Finally, you need to winterizing your activity gear.  If its cycling, make sure to switch out your tires for better treads.  If running or walking, consider buying winter running shoes a half to a full size larger to accomodate thicker socks.

So if you’re ready to drive your energy level and invigorate your body and mind, get out on that Chicago Lakefront path and put in some quality exercise.  Run, hike, bike, ski….whatever the sport, outdoor winter activity is a great way to avoid the winter blues and stay fit.

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