Larraine Roulston January’21

Benefits of Cold Weather Exercise

By Larraine Roulston

The usual rise in gym memberships in January will most likely not occur this year. In 2021, you might have to seek ways to improve your fitness in the great outdoors. In many ways, it can be more beneficial.

As many people of all ages enjoy skating, why not plan to create a backyard rink, or ask local councillors to arrange for suitable local parks to erect outdoor skating areas? Many youngsters who grew up skating on outdoor rinks, including people like Gordie Howe and Bobby Orr, became Canada’s hockey greats. This could be the year to visit sporting stores for outdoor sports gear. I have always marveled at winter bikers who know how to dress for their daily commute. These hardy souls arrive at their workplaces in good physical and mental condition. It’s been documented that those who walk to work are better prepared to begin the day’s tasks. Daytime jogs and evening walks are also invigorating.

As your body needs to work harder to counteract heat loss, it has been suggested that people might even perform better in cold weather rather than in warm environments. While the body generates heat during exercise, two considerations are key — keep moving and do not overdress. In fact, you should feel rather cool before setting out.

Other surprising benefits include the following:

Boost your Immune System: According to a study by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, exercising in cold weather conditions regularly reduces your risk of flu susceptibility by 20-30%.

Aid Circulation: To strive for a healthier heart, cold weather exercising will increase your heart rate and blood flow. One exercise that should not be overdone, however, is shoveling driveways and sidewalks.

Raise Metabolism: All athletic stimulation gives you a boost; however, research shows that working out in the cold helps to increase metabolism. As increased energy is required to maintain core temperature, exercising in the cold yields a higher caloric expenditure which is the proportion of energy necessary to utilize breathing, digest food, and exercise.

Relieve the Winter Blues: With fewer daylight hours to absorb vitamin D, some people feel a bit low. When bracing against colder weather, the endorphins released through exercise will allow you to feel more active.

Enhance Athletic Performance: Cold weather exercise helps athletes train their lungs as well as their entire body to utilize oxygen more efficiently.

~ Larraine writes children’s books that highlight the joy of composting and pollinating with the adventures of Pee Wee at Castle Compost. With illustrations, songs, and poems, the stories unearth the miracles of nature’s cycle of life. Fun and factual for all ages. To order, postage free visit: