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Exercising During the Winter Chill

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It might not be pleasant, but the rewards could be valuable.

Every time I witness heavy snowfall, it brings to mind an old Calvin and Hobbes comic strip where Calvin’s father goes biking in the midst of a snowstorm. Upon his return, he extols the virtues of winter exercise to Calvin and his mom, who promptly urge him to shut the door. The concept of exercising outdoors in the winter may seem perplexing to most, but interestingly, cold-weather workouts can actually offer significant benefits if done correctly.

Some researchers propose that engaging in physical activity in colder temperatures triggers a latent genetic characteristic that our hunter/gatherer ancestors possessed. In ancient times, hunters roamed the wilderness for extended periods in pursuit of prey, without the aid of insulated clothing to keep warm. Instead, their bodies naturally burned a specific type of fat typically used for insulation, known as “brown fat.” It is speculated, at least theoretically, that working out in cold conditions can lead to significant calorie expenditure. If this sounds a bit too esoteric, here’s a more practical perspective: the cold can lower your heart rate. In chilly weather, your body expends less energy to regulate its temperature, allowing you to engage in longer workouts without overheating.

Credit: Unsplash

So, what activities can you do in the snow? Opting for a jog is a solid choice, but you’ll need to take precautions. Be sure to wear sturdy, grippy footwear for icy conditions and layer up appropriately for insulation, without hindering your movement. Weight training is also an excellent option, and you can even incorporate it by shoveling snow from your driveway. This activity provides vigorous, high-impact exercise while serving a practical purpose. You might even consider shoveling driveways for others and earning some extra income!

While exercising in the cold can offer benefits, safety should always be a priority. If there’s a severe blizzard, consider postponing the workout for a few days.

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