It's freezing, grey and miserable. All you want to do is curl up in doors with the central heating and a hot drink. Why on earth would you want to get out in the park and workout in this? There are huge benefits, that really do out-weigh any negatives.
Firstly, let's dispel the myths. NY Times published - Dr John W.Castellani was lead author of a 2006 paper from the American College of Sports Medicine on exercising in the cold. "The Big Question was, 'Is it ever too cold?'" Dr Castellani said "the answer is no" The problem, experts say is that people may be hobbled by myths that lead them to over dress or to stop moving, risky things to do.
Some people worry cold will injure their lungs or elicit asthma symptoms, and even that they are at higher risk of injury. Kenneth W.Rundell, the director of respiratory research and the Human physiology laboratory at Marywood University in Scranton Pa said " No matter how cold the air is, by the time it reaches your lungs it is body temperature." He explains "Cold air may not hold as much water, however you would have the same effect exercising in air that was equally dry but warm" He later added "You might want to use a balaclava" so your exhaled breath can moisten the air you breathe. Read the full article here
Working out in winter can help fight the dreaded SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
This is a biggie. SAD affects a huge number of people and we get that bout of the winter blues. Of course exercise in general helps. More specifically exercising out doors sees us exposed to more sun in the daylight hours and increases your body's production of vitamin D, relieving depression and keeping the mind sharp.
Oxygen, Oxygen and more Oxygen
Fresh air has far more oxygen than circulating indoor air such as that you would find indoors in the gym. The sciency bit - When you exercise your respiratory rate increases. This is a complex chemical process in the muscles and bloodstream. When you exercise, the muscles move more vigorously, their metabolic rate increases and they need more energy. They produce the energy molecule ATP. You NEED oxygen to produce ATP, so the more ATP produced the greater the requirement for oxygen.
(Don't forget the waste product - CO2 which is exhaled. In a gym environment you are therefore surrounded by other exercisers waste product and you don't see many green leafy plants converting CO2 into Oxygen do you?!)
The Calorie Burn
Working out in the cold burns more calories, you can torch up to 500-600 calories in an out door BootCamp. "Cold is much more metabolically expensive" says Cara Ocobock of the University at Albany. "You have to burn more calories" through whats called thermogenesis just to keep the body warm. "Cold exposure increases the amount of brown fat that is present in the body" says Cannon, a professor of biomedical sciences at Stockholm, Sweden. who has published research* on brown fat and its health benefits, which is particularly good at thermogenisis and therefore calorie burn.
The Feel Good Factor
Studies have suggested that activity and exercise have a positive effect on feelings of vitality when done out doors and in particular in nature. This also impacts feelings of revitalisation, decrease in tension and depression and increased energy. Further studies show reports on increased mental wellbeing following exercise in nature which are not seen following the same exercise indoors. So, getting outside in nature with beautiful views and exercising is likely to have further health and mental benefits than looking at the gym walls!
You are all in it together, whether it be rain, snow wind or glorious sunshine. Those days when it may seem a little less appealing are by far the most rewarding! You have laughed, pulled faces and slipped in the mud but most of all you have had fun with your team mates!
Read my article on how to dress for out door BootCamp to make sure you are fully prepared and ready to get down and have some serious fun!