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Four Reasons To Workout Outdoors This Winter

jason-leung kids ice skating

It’s the middle of November and, if you live in the North of the Northern Hemisphere, that means the weather’s already cold or things are about to take a very dramatic turn.

Unlike October, it’s not frosty in the morning and blazing by noon. Unlike December, there’s still some mildness to spare before we’re all plunged into a deep freeze for the next four to six months.

With snowstorms looming and early sunsets on the horizon, we would all be justified in planning hibernation instead of packing our schedules with physical activity—winter fitness? It’s kind of awesome.

No, really—and I have a highly-scannable list of reasons to prove it.

CUE. THE. MUSIC.

1. Kicking SAD’s Butt

Seasonal Affective Disorder (AKA SAD) can leave you drained of energy, moody, and feeling like a stock photo of a forlorn guy looking out a window pane.

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Now don’t get me wrong: working out is not a cure for depression, BUT it does produce a feel-good boost of endorphins in your brain that keeps some of the SAD at bay. And sure, you can work out in a gym and get some of the same effects—but a crisp powerwalk outside gives you a chance for fresh air and Vitamin D.

The alternative? Spending time in a cramped gym, building up a slow-churning rage while someone hogs the squat rack. Sad.

2. Staying Cool On YouR Own Terms

Summer workouts can mean sweating in places you didn’t know you could sweat—and probably some you shouldn’t be. Winter workouts actually can give you more control over your body temperature than warm weather ones.

During the winter, the simple trick is to add more layers. You should be comfortable—not hot, not freezing—when you step out into the elements. If you’re chilly, head back inside and add another layer on. And, if you’re TOO warm once you get moving—you can tug off that toque or roll up your sleeves. Custom control, people!

winter running outfit

3. Adding Resistance With Snow

Think about any training montage in any movie and there’s probably a clip of the hero running on the beach because they’re a badass, and adding resistance with sand is badass. Well, you get the same badass effect from running in snow. Increased resistance means increased badass effort and badass muscle development, you badass.

Really though, one of my favourite runs of any given year is the one that comes after the snow melts and clears off the sidewalks. After hustling in the snow all winter you feel like an Olympian on clear sidewalks. You feel like you could fly.

(Note: I recommend traction aids for running in snow AND ice. We’ll talk about this in another post.)

4. Winter Sports Are Fun Eh?

If you told me to run up a hill, I would do it, but I’d hold a grudge. BUT if you told me to run up a hill and jump on a toboggan, I’d want to run up that hill about nine more times.

This could be my tragically Canadian sensibilities, BUT winter offers up all sorts of cool activities we don’t have readily available all year, and lots of them are fun and cool (and would look great on your Instagram). Snowshoeing, ice skating on outdoor rinks, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowball fights—all wicked wintery ways to get your heart pounding and your sweat on.

Do you keep moving outdoors in the winter or hit the gym until spring? What’s your favourite-ever training montage?

Hit me up in the comments, on Instagram
@rilesrunswild, or Facebook and let me know!