Summer nights, when the temperature starts to cool off, are perfect for a stroll in the park or a walk around the block. Unfortunately those cold winter winds aren’t as inviting. When we think about winter activities skiing, skating and snowman building may come to mind, but otherwise most of us stay inside until temperatures are back in the double digits. From December to March (and sometimes April), a short walk to the car, brisk walk to the mailbox or a stroll with friend in your neighbourhood may turn into a run to the car, quick drive to the mailbox, and staying inside with hot beverages. Why fear winter when you can embrace it?
Did you know walking in the cold weather, aside from being beneficial to your cardiovascular health, has added benefits for your health? Here are a few:
- Brain boosts: colder temperatures help us perform tasks better and encourage the completion of tasks more so than in warmer temperatures
- Burn Calories: your body works twice as hard to keep you warm, especially in extended periods of outdoor exposure
- Increased production of brown fat: brown fat cells burn energy and produce heat in the body. Those with a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) tend to have more brown fat than those with a higher BMI
- Lowers Inflammation: Just as you would put ice packs on an injury to reduce swelling, stepping outside in the winter is like stepping into a giant ice pack. You may notice a decrease in inflammation and pain even from a few minutes of walking outside*.
*This may not be the case for everyone. If you’re suffering from severe inflammation it may be best to consult a healthcare professional before prolonged cold exposures.
- Better Sleep: When we sleep our body temperatures begin to drop, however if you suffer from insomnia it becomes difficult to lower your body temperature. Sleeping in colder conditions, or increased exposure to cold before bed (like an evening stroll) will help regulate body temperature and get you that much needed sleep.
Instead of sitting on the couch this weekend think about taking a stroll with a friend or make it a family outing. Still need some motivation? Find a dog-walker! Dogs need to get exercise too, and in cold weather it becomes a challenge even for them. Keeping dog-walkers company is not only a great motivator to stay active but also an opportunity to keep in touch more regularly, something many busy working individuals find hard to make time for.
Get out there and stay cold!
Khal, J. K. (2005). Room Temperature and Task Effects on Arousal, Comfort and Performance, Department of Psychology, Journal of Undergraduate Research VIII.
Cannon, B., Nedergaard, J. (2010). The Changed Metabolic World with Human Brown Adipose Tissue: Therapeutic Visions, The Wenner-Gren Institute, The Arrhenius Laboratories, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Cohut, M. (2017). How Can Our Health Benefit From Colder Temperatures, Medical News Today, retrieved from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320214.php?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=daily-us