When the temperatures start to go down, it’s easy to want to sit inside all day and enjoy feeling cozy and warm. However, you might not want to completely stop walking around in the cold weather — there are a number of health benefits from specifically taking a stroll when it’s frosty.
First and foremost, chillier weather may actually be better for improving your overall physical endurance than when it’s hotter out. “In colder temperatures your heart doesn’t have to work as hard, you sweat less, and expend less energy, all of which means you can exercise more efficiently,” Adam Tenforde, MD, an assistant professor of sports medicine and rehabilitation, told Harvard Medical School. Without the extra strain of the heat, the weather helps lower blood pressure, increase aerobic capacity, stabilize blood sugar levels, and improve your mobility as you walk.
Moreover, for those trying to lose weight, studies have shown that walking when it’s cold outside may play a big role in turning more white fat, particularly in the stomach and thigh area, into calorie-burning brown fat over time, supercharging your results. In fact, some people reported burning up to 800 to 1,000 more calories doing the same activities in the winter versus the spring thanks to those colder temperatures.
Lastly, getting outside, even in winter gear, is great for receiving adequate sunlight exposure, which provides your body with critical vitamin D and wards off seasonal affective disorder (SAD); not getting enough sun can cause anxiety and depression. Just remember that you still have to wear sunscreen no matter what, even if you’re taking a stroll in the dead of winter!
All of that said, you don’t have to go outside on days where it’s extra icy or there’s heavy snowfall. After all, you still want to enjoy your walks — and not put your body and your safety at risk!