Why You Shouldn’t Take a Winter Break From Exercise

Winter and cold weather get the blame for a lot of the extra pounds people put on during the cold months. But the problem only worsens when people make a conscious decision not to get any exercise during the winter months.

Exercise can be such an easy routine to fall out of for some reason and one of the hardest to establish. Why, then, when the weather turns cold do we decide to drop our hard-to-develop habit and hibernate?

Keep on Groovin’

Research proves that when people take a break from their fitness routine during the winter months, they experience the following:

  • A 20% decrease in cardiopulmonary fitness within just three to eight weeks of not exercising.
  • A loss of whatever advantages they gained over time.
  • Go back to couch potato fitness level within three to six months of not exercising.
  • Difficulty losing the winter weight gained even when they start exercising again.

If those statistics don’t sway you, how about the endless number of benefits of continually exercising throughout the year, such as:

  • Positive mood enhancement
  • Weight control
  • More energy
  • Less stress
  • Better sleep
  • Lower chance of depression

Face the Cold

If you’re afraid that running or doing some other cardiovascular activity in the extreme cold will be harmful to your health, let’s debunk that myth for you. When properly dressed, you can get a great workout outside, even in the bitter cold. When you start moving, your body instantly works to warm you up.

This is good for two reasons: 1) It eliminates the excuse for not exercising in the winter, and 2) we burn more calories because our bodies are working harder to keep us warm.

Keep these other tips in mind when exercising in the cold:

  • Layer clothing: Make sure your first layer is a moisture-wicking material to keep sweat off your body. Your outer layer should be water resistant, so you stay dry.
  • Wear sunglasses: If you decide to exercise outside with the sun shining, wear protective glasses for your eyes. The glasses should block out UVA and UVB rays.
  • Wear a scarf: This will help to protect your lung tissue from the cold air.
  • Hydrate: Drinking sports drinks or water during winter is just as important as it is in the warm months. You may not sweat as much, but fluid is still being lost, so proper hydration is vital.
  • Keep moving: Since your body warms up naturally by moving, stopping for a break due to fatigue or injury can be dangerous because your body cools down very quickly in the cold. This in turn makes you more susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia.
  • Wear reflective materials if running or exercising in the dark.
  • Watch out for slick and icy spots.

Here are more ways to stay active this winter.

Photo credit: Getty


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Read 7 Comments

  1. That makes sense that you wouldn’t want to stop working out while it’s cold outside. I don’t want to come back outside in the spring having lost all the work I had already done on my fitness. I should get some warm workout clothes so I can hopefully stay in good shape over the winter, and not be too cold while out running or something.

    1. Great attitude, Tyler! You’re right, you don’t want to miss out on months of exercise and undo months of hard work. With a little planning, outdoor exercise can be just as rewarding (and fun!) in the winter as it is in the spring and summer! – Candice

  2. The cold weather is going to be one of the biggest challenges to fitness, but as you’ve stated, there are ways around it. From layering clothes to even building routines at home, which is easy to do given current technologies, there are various options to consider.

    1. Exactly, Rob! With the right equipment and mindset, you can still stick to your fitness goals – no matter the season! – Candice

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