February 27, 2017

Is Winter Actually the BEST Time to Train Outdoors?

Guest Post by Lisa Green with Intro by Crabby McSlacker

You see the happy face of the winter exerciser pictured above? That's your first clue Crabby McSlacker didn't write this post.  She is a cowardly snowbird who flees to warmer climates when it gets cold. And she figured a winter picture of her exercising while holding a pina colada on a beach lined with palm trees might not be all that motivating to people in more northerly climates. (Though hell, with this winter's weird weather, you too may be donning your swimsuits and reaching for tropical cocktails).

But guess what? It turns out outdoor cold-weather exercising comes with some side benefits you may not know about. This might be way more helpful to your motivation during sucky winter weather than anything Crabby might suggest.

Lisa Green writes for Gym Person where you can find useful training tips and resources. But never fear, Crabby will be back either later this week or early next week, you never know with her. See you soon! --Crabby

You can’t be blamed for wanting to ride out the winter season and get back in shape come spring. Or maybe you are even that kind of person that regardless of season prefers to workout at home rather than outdoors.

Regardless of how or where you like to train, you would be wasting an incredible opportunity if you let the winter slip away.

For people willing to brave the elements during the winter months; the cold temperatures and low humidity can turbo-charge your training and torch body fat to give you a beach-ready body in time for summer.

Keep reading to learn all the benefits of cold weather workouts!

Exercise in the Cold and Get Happy

Research demonstrates that exercising raises your endorphin levels. Endorphins are the natural chemical painkiller we produce that elevates mood and relieves stress. Exercising in the outdoors in cold weather is more strenuous than training in the summer time, creating an even greater release of this great chemical into your bloodstream.

You don’t have to do anything different to enjoy the mood-elevating effects of cold weather exercise. Just make sure you don’t forget to warm-up and stretch properly before getting out there.

Cold Weather Training Burns Fat

Cold weather training will burn more fat than training in warm weather.

While many people associate sweating with burning calories, sweating and the number of calories you burn are completely unrelated. Sweating is simply the body’s mechanism for cooling off.

What burns calories is physical effort not sweating.

Cold weather training will burn more fat for two reasons:

• Your body will burn more calories simply to keep warm
• Cold temperatures encourage your body to produce brown fat

Take advantage of these two facts to torch body fat and lean out for the warm season by doing one easy thing.

You'll Become Cold-Proof

The human body is extraordinarily adaptable. By regularly exposing yourself to the cold your body will learn to generate higher levels of heat to counter the cold.

People who regularly exercise and work in cold temperatures are far less sensitive to dropping temperatures and remain comfortable in temperatures that would make most people shiver uncontrollably.

Improve Your Immune System

Exercising outdoors will improve blood circulation, and better circulation will result in a stronger immune response. Studies have proven that people who exercise get sick less frequently than people who are sedentary.

Cold weather exercise, being more strenuous will result in a better improvement in immune response than training in warmer weather.

A Chance to Try New Things

Winter exercise doesn’t have to be the same old grind, you can try something new!

Is there too much snow to run through? Build an igloo! The idea is to move your body and exercise your muscles almost any activity can qualify.

Here is a short list of fun winter activities that will get your heart pumping:

  • Shovel snow; shoveling snow is an incredible all-body exercise. Make sure you use your legs and keep your back straight to prevent lower back injury
  • Build a snowman; have fun out there and recapture some of the magic of your childhood
  • Take a hike; find a field of deep snow and walk across it, lift your legs high and push your feet down deep for super cardio workout
  • Go sledding; run your sled/inner-tube/cardboard box to the top of a hill and slide down-then repeat
  • Go ice-skating; on a pond or at a skating rink, spend a few hours skating to burn hundreds of calories while you’re having fun!

Use your imagination; the number of ways to use snow and ice to train is only limited by your imagination.

However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind before you head outside for winter exercise:

Dress Lightly

That’s right. At temperatures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) , the natural increase in body temperature from even moderate exercise will keep you comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt. Nature will take care of the rest. Your body will burn copious amounts of energy (fat) to maintain your core temperature; the cold will stimulate your body to produce brown fat (which burns regular fat).

Get Hydrated

Just because you’re not sweating as much as you do while training in warm weather doesn’t mean you’re not losing precious water to the atmosphere. That steam coming out your mouth every time you exhale; that’s water. You’re also still sweating while you exercise in the cold, the low humidity and cold simply wicks the moisture away before it can start to run down your face.

When you train in the cold, make sure you bring water with you. Staying hydrated will increase your endurance, minimize fatigue, and keep your lips from getting chapped.

So Get Out There!

The benefits of training outdoors in cold weather are numerous: a better mood, boosted immune system, increased ability to tolerate changes in temperature, and increased fat burning, to name a few. It's also a great way to change your fitness routine and bring some new excitement to what has likely become a stale routine. Use outdoor cold-weather training to restore your excitement for exercise.


  1. I love that this posts today, as I slept in instead of walking in the rain. I'm a southern Californian through and through, and while I walked in the rain yesterday and didn't melt, it was windier and rainier today, so I said PASS.

    I honestly don't know how I'd survive in any other climate. :D

    1. Yes OTF, I spoke too soon on the balmy weather and pina coloadas. I've gotten so winter-wimpy I barely left the house and felt miserable all day long. I HATE COLD WINDY RAIN!!!! I'd actually rather it snow. Ugh, hope it gets better soon!

    2. I also prefer the cold without the rain :) It just gets 'messy', but it's also just a state of mind. We were raised with the notion that winter is bad and summer is good.

      That a sunny day is great and a rainy isn't.

      That there is a bad weather and a good weather. This is "de-powering" and make us in the mercy of things that we cannot control rather than stuff we can.

      The cliche of always bring the weather with you is true.

      Also there's a difference of getting 'caught up' in rain while you are wearing work clothes with groceries and your purse, to when you are in the right mindset with the right clothing and the right shoes, but really is the right mindset that matters.

      Example, I am doing contrast - cold showers, since I know what I am getting myself into I don't "suffer", it's being deliberate.

    3. Former Girls Next Door star and Peepshow leading lady Holly Madison took a multi-prong
      approach to weight loss after packing on 19 pounds in just 3 WEEKS

  2. Intriguing! While i can't see myself moving to where there is snow, we do get some cold days in the swamps, and i'll have to make myself get outdoors more when we do. My sluggish thyroid might not allow me to warm up as much as you say, but if i warm up enough to go with 2 layers instead of three it will be an improvement.

    1. Yes, that was my reaction too. Us wonky thyroid folks just don't have good circulation no matter what the blood tests say about our dosage levels.

      Mary Anne in Kentucky

    2. Sorry about the thyroid issues gals, that sounds like an extra layer of difficulty in the cold. Does it work in reverse, is hot muggy weather less miserable for you?

    3. Hot, muggy weather is what I was born for. Once I stopped wearing synthetics, I've never been too hot outdoors. (Indoors, yes, unless there was plenty of air movement.)
      Mary Anne in Kentucky

  3. Being acclimated to cold is a thing. I am outside a lot for work, in short spurts, and I will go out in my shirt sleeves when it's around freezing to walk a dog for a minute or two, to take some trash out, to check the outside runs. Not for a walk, though, especially if there's the slightest wind. Perhaps my brisk walks don't count as "moderate" exercise, because I can't imagine being warm enough in shorts and a t shirt for a walk at anything under 60F.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

    1. I notice a huge difference Mary Anne, between brisk walking and running in the cold. I'm like you, I can't walk in a t shirt below 60, but if I'm running and warmed up sufficiently, I'm down to shirts and a tank top at much lower temps. I think my body must think running=emergency so it shuts down the temp censors to get the job done?

    2. Fooling the body is part of the whole exercise process, right?

  4. Also, my immediate response to the title question was "No, ANY time is the best time to train outdoors." (Tornados and hurricanes excepted.)

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

    1. Hot and humid? Acck! If so, screw the outdoors, I'm inside with A/C or submerged in water. And YES on tornado avoidance! Hurricanes I think it depends on How Big and How Close. :)

  5. Nice post Lisa! I've recently been experimenting with mild cold stress and contrast showers. I've been motivated by the work of Wim Hof and Ray Cronise. The first few minutes of shivering SUCK! But as soon as your body goes into thermogenesis, it's actually a pretty blissful experience.


  6. I will continue to escape to the Bahamas and get my yoga on outside. The weather hasn't been too bad this year. I was actually sunning myself on the balcony last week. But the cold is not for me. Kudos to those who get out there and enjoy it!

  7. In November my husband and I started hiking between 1 to 3 hrs every weekend. Advantages, almost no one else on the trails, no bugs and no issues finding parking. Disadvantages, ice and snow, and worse if both at the same time. Ahhh, winter in Canada...

  8. Yes its best time to outdoor by trains so get information of how to irctc sign in to book ticket see other details.

  9. this blog is really helpful for me enjoyed a lot thank you so much for sharing.

  10. I don't know about all these ideas for winter exercise, but i do know what I've done in the winter. I run outside. Yes, I do live in northern Florida now, but just cause it's called the sunshine state doesn't mean NORTHERN Florida is warm all winter. Actually the sunniest days are often the coldest, anywhere from 10 to 50 degrees. When I was in school in the Northeast, I ran everyday unless there was too much snow and ice to do it safely. I wore plenty of layers. I did not dress lightly.

  11. Thanks for posting these ideas! Really helpful for me since I am having a hard time to workout every winter. Keep it up! stay healthy and fit!

  12. I'm usually more likely to fall into the running away category when it comes to outdoor training but this has definitely inspired me to give it more of a go!

  13. Walk out side once per day for 30-60 minutes weather permitting. This will help with weight loss and good health. Malls are also a great place to walk laps inside if you want to stay warm.

  14. Every time is good to train outdoor!:)
    Just be motivated! http://loseweightmotivator.com/weight-loss-mistakes/


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