Gym memberships are likely to be all the rage come January, and while there is nothing wrong with indoor exercise, getting outside from to time could help you burn through fat faster.
Research has found that exercising outdoors in the cold is most beneficial for weight loss.
A study published this year in the American Journal of Human Biology found that cooler temperatures force your body to burn more calories in order to regulate its temperature.
They discovered that men who hiked in the mountains during winter burned 4,787 calories per day and just 3,822 calories doing the same exercise during spring.
Similarly, women used up 3,081 in spring and 3,880 in winter.
What’s more, exercising in the chilly outdoors compared to a balmy gym does more for your health than shrink your waistline.
“Working out in the cold weather makes the heart work harder to distribute blood throughout the body resulting in enhanced cardiovascular endurance,” said David Wiener, personal trainer and training specialist at fitness app, Freeletics.
Additionally, at a time of year when you can be at risk of vitamin D deficiency, being outdoors allows you to absorb more of it naturally via the sun.
This can also reduce risk of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), according to Saranya Madina, fitness academy trainer at Nuffield Health.
However, before you lace up your trainers and dash into the frost, you need to be aware of the risk factors that come with working out in different temperatures to what you may be used to.
“Proper warm-up and cool-down movements are crucial to keeping the body in shape, especially if you’re exercising in cold conditions,” Wiener said.
“Keeping the body loose, limber and warm for a cold weather workout can help prevent painful twists, sprains, tears and other injuries.”
Additionally, you should see a doctor first if you have an existing heart condition. “Working out in the cold places extra stress on your cardiovascular system,” he warned.
Wiener added that it is also important to stay hydrated.
“The body continues to sweat, but that sweat evaporates more quickly, making it seem as though the body is losing less water,” he explained.
“Drinking water before, during and after a workout will help maintain peak performance, protect the body from injury and stay warm.”
Madina added that clothing is also crucial.
“It may seem an obvious one but it’s important for people to dress in layers which are easy to remove when they start to sweat but can also be re-added if needed,” she explained.
“A thin layer of synthetic material (not cotton which stays wet) followed by a fleece or wool layer for insulation followed by a breathable, waterproof layer is advisable.
“Try and keep the hands, feet, head and ears well protected as these areas are most susceptible to frostbite.”