Exercising in the winter has surprising health benefits

(ABC4) – To Utahns, it often feels like winter lasts longer than the allotted three-month period ranging from Dec. to Feb. That’s often because the temperature outside mirrors more of a snowstorm than a spring day. 

As a result, it can be hard to find the motivation to stay active and go to the gym. However, exercising regularly in the winter can help combat some of the seasonal struggles we often experience throughout the colder months. 

According to Edward-Elmhurst Health, staying active in the winter can help keep those extra holiday pounds off. Exercising in the winter can both increase your endurance and help you burn more fat. In cold temperatures, your heart doesn’t have to work as hard so you expend less energy, while exercising in cold weather can double the amount of fat you burn. 

Similarly, exercising regularly throughout the winter months can keep you from developing seasonal affective disorder (SAD), otherwise known as seasonal depression, by increasing the amount of endorphins you’re producing. 

Marie Schafer, MD, sports medicine specialist for Cleveland Clinic, weighed in on the matter, saying, “In the colder weather months, I think staying active can be as simple as in the warmer months, but sometimes you need to do a little more preparation for it.” 

According to Schafer, running, walking, and hiking outdoors in the wintertime offers many health benefits. Another option is to take advantage of the winter sports that seem to be ubiquitous throughout Utah. For those who choose to indulge in one of the many colder outdoor activities the Beehive state has to offer, Schafer encourages you to dress appropriately and keep an eye out for ice. 

“Even though it might be snowing, it could also be very sunny outside and there’s a big glare coming off of the white snow and you can actually get sunburn and windburn in the winter doing activities outside,” she said. “So, not only do you need to worry about frostbite but also that as well.”

Of course, there is always the option to workout indoors as well, as many of us have come accustomed to through the pandemic. 

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