Rest assured, there’s more to winter than frigid temperatures and shovelling snow. When you muster up the courage to train outdoors, you’ll quickly discover the many benefits of winter sports.
So just what are the benefits of getting outdoors in winter?
According to a Japanese study cited by ParticipACTION, certain infection-fighting and cancer-preventing cells become significantly more active after a walk. Another study by the Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences shows that 30 minutes spent outdoors lowers the heart rate and reduces blood pressure. And being out in the natural light, the body gets its fill of vitamin D.
Outdoor exercise stimulates the brain more than indoor activity. The fact of having to be alert to our surroundings has a positive effect on our vitality, memory, concentration and cognitive abilities, among others.
Even in winter, outdoor activity plays a positive role in our well-being by reducing stress and anxiety. As well as relaxing the body and mind, physical activity (including walking) releases endorphins (feel-good hormones), promotes serotonin production (mood-influencing hormone) and decreases cortisol (stress hormone).
According to a study by Université de Sherbrooke cited by the Quebec Kinesiologist Federation, outdoor exercise greatly increases the level of training satisfaction compared to working out in the gym. In both cases, however, group exercise has the advantage of boosting motivation and strengthening social interactions, which are essential to psychological well-being.
We use more energy outdoors in winter than we do indoors in summer. In winter, we reach the same level of fitness and number of calories burned faster.
Unless you’re dead set on keeping up with the latest trends in sports clothing and equipment, walking, running and many outdoor activities don’t require a lot of expense on equipment. The most expensive accessories, such as skis or snowshoes, should be considered a long-term investment.