Winter is fast approaching, the clocks have gone back, and the cold, wet and rainy months have arrived. With the days getting shorter, along with colder and darker mornings, we all tend to be reluctant to go out and exercise. But, as long as you prepare for the conditions, there is no reason why we shouldn’t. In fact, there are many benefits to staying active and exercising in the winter months!
IMPROVES MENTAL HEALTH: seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is very common in the winter months, often due to disturbances in the circadian system of the body. There are many known symptoms of SAD, including: a persistent low mood, loss of interest in everyday activities, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. Multiple studies have shown that physical activity and increasing exposure to natural sunlight is associated with a reduction in depression and anxiety disorders – contributing to cognitive function, life satisfaction, and improved mental health.
HELPS TO REGULATE VITAMIN D: it is no doubt that in the winter we reduce our exposure to natural sunlight, ultimately reducing our Vitamin D production. To help naturally regulate our Vitamin D, wrap up warm, exercise outside when the sun is present and think about adding in a vitamin D3 supplement to help maintain health and immunity.
BOOSTS METABOLIC HEALTH: recent studies have shown that exercising in colder temperatures has the advantage of changing the balance of white and brown fat within the body, improving glucose homeostasis, insulin sensitivity, and lipid metabolism. The cold temperatures can increase brown fat production; a specialised type that produces energy for heat by breaking down calories and white fat. In theory, this may give your metabolism a boost and burn more calories.
Although there are plenty of great benefits to remaining active in the winter, it’s important to know the risks of exercising in the cold and how to prevent them. This includes things like: hypothermia and an increased sensitivity for people with respiratory conditions. But perhaps the most common risk in colder and adverse weather, is a greater likelihood of slips, trips and falls. If you do find yourself sustaining an injury from slipping on some ice or wet leaves, it’s important to get checked out by a musculoskeletal specialist, like a sports therapist. They can help speed up recovery, aid in rehabilitation to prevent future falls as well as decipher if further imaging such as an xray may be needed.