Before we jump to the conclusion that cold weather conditions are the nemesis of outdoor exercise, let’s try and generate at least few positive benefits of exercising out in the cold.
I would like to concentrate on running and calisthenics exercise. Running/jogging can be performed at your own pace, rhythmically. It is free, convenient and without a dull moment. Think of how many wonderful squirrels you will encounter on your outdoor expedition.
The cold condition requires extensive warming to decrease risk of injury. It is worth to remember that cold reduces ligament flexibility and makes muscles work harder.
Not one size fits all. It is crucial to be aware of how your body reacts to rising temperatures. Beside the general advise to cover your extremities, and head.
How do you turn the thinking on its head and enjoy running in a wintry condition?
It is a test of self discipline which requires special kind of attitude. The goal is to always improve your body’s ability to generate heat and resist cold.
Training experts stress that ideal temperature for endurance performance gain is 10-12C. Your heart rate is slower, it is up to around 15 beats per minute fewer. This means that you end up less fatigued at the end of the run.
Further, cold weather can stimulate increase of VO2 max. VO2max is maximum oxygen uptake. Endurance running is recommended instead of short, speedy running to minimise the amount of cold air rushing into your lungs.
When you run in cold you thaw yourself within. Your heart no longer work as hard as it to in summer when it send blood to the periphery of your body to cool it down by evaporation and sweat.
Ideally, you should try smart, head-on approach to combate the seasonal slowdown of metabolism and Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD).
Ultimately, it is about your well being and how you feel as a result of your actions. If you notice elevation in your mood after just few days, this is a clear indication the effort is paying off.
You might notice increased energy level, improved ability to concentrate, lessen irritability, boost in confidence. You might find yourself to be relaxed easier, be at ease with yourself and to smile more often than usual. You can also experience decrease in unnnecessary tension and frustration. It is the control that you are gaining over your body which improves your overall well being.
Mood enhancing hormones noradrenaline and beta-endorphin are released during exercise. It helps to deal with seasonal depression and boost our moods.
But what happens when we are exposed to cold temperatures?
Scientists reported that running outside in cold increase glucose uptake by 15%, sugar used for energy rather than store as a body fat.
We shiver. Shivering is involuntary muscle contraction to warm you.
In recent years scientists have reported that shivering stimulates the conversion of energy storing white fat (WAT, white adipose tissue) into energy burning brown fat (BAT, brown adipose tissue). This brown fat function can be activated with a help of cold induced endocrine activators: irisin protein and FGF21 hormone.
We know that brown fat is part of our thermogenesis. As infants we have brown fat present around our necks, during the cold the process is achieved without muscle contractions, the shivering
This brown fat is called “constitutive", we are born with it.
However, researchers reported the presence of recruitable fat changes into brown under the right circumstances. Exposure to the cold temperatures may recruit brown fat round our bodies.
The future researches should investigate whether there is genetic differences in the response to the brown fat recruit and increase production of irisin. Whether this discovery can be practically used as a therapeutic strategy to deal with obesity, fatty liver and diabetes. Whether the mechanism that defends us against the cold can also help us with disorders such as obesity.
We must proceed with caution when running in frigid air. It can cause irritation to our airways. This cold dry air can stimulate bronchoconstriction.
Bronchus is a pathway that moves air from and to your lungs. When muscle contract it narrows and restrict the amount of passing air. If you suffer from exercise induced asthma you are susceptible. To prevent cold dry air, humidify it and warm it by wearing scarf or balaclava.
🏃♀️🏃♀️🏃♀️ Izabela Koper