Fitness & Nutrition

Running in Winter Isn’t Weird Anymore

December 14, 2021

Many people struggle with changing their activity level in cold weather, but humans are adaptable. Winter doesn’t have to mean less activity; it can mean welcoming new opportunities for variations in our routines. Running and walking in winter provide top-notch benefits.

Running in cold is easier than running in heat.

It’s not an opinion; it’s science. Seventy percent of your energy goes to cooling your body when you run in the heat. Not so in the cold. Your body requires less effort to keep the same pace, resulting in a lower heart rate. You exercise more efficiently and become less fatigued.

Movement boosts your mood.

Any exercise generates powerful hormones to help brain and body chemicals create a more friendly environment. Taking that movement outside provides even more. Seeing the sun, wildlife, and trees can be powerful motivators to get moving. That’s good news for those with seasonal affective disorder. If SAD isn’t an issue for you, you still get the same perks.

Here are tips to help you do it safely.

Gear up smart.

Hydrate and moisturize.

Winter’s dry. You don’t experience the same thirst cues in the cold that you do in the heat, so proactively stay hydrated. Now’s the time for extra moisturizer and remember: You can still get sunburned in winter.

Do an indoor warmup.

Sure, you can run slow in the cold until you feel warm. But you’ll have a much better time and less risk of injury if you take a few minutes to warm up indoors before you leave.

Pay attention.

Watch your terrain. Trails in the woods, well-cleared roads, and sidewalks are less likely to hide ice.

Keep healthy momentum.

Don’t let good habits be derailed by external circumstances or old ones and inertia can take over. Instead, adapt. Change what your active routine looks like instead of losing it all together.  Adjust your gear, the time of day, your intensity level—but keep moving. You’ll have streets and trails largely to yourself, plus the satisfaction of being one of the few who perseveres.