To most of us winter means warm jumpers, hearty meals and central heating. Stepping outside is the last thing on people's agendas. But did you know that there are a range of health benefits associated with outdoor training in winter, making it even more beneficial than outdoor summer training. So get your waterproofs and thermals on and get out there!!!
We have all heard of fat, this is what is responsible for those wobbly bits many of us are trying to lose. This fat is known as white fat and is found underneath the skin and around organs. It provides a vital role in insulation, protection and storage of energy. There is another type of fat called brown fat. And whilst we aim to keep levels of white fat low, we could all do with more brown fat.
Brown fat is the central heating system of our bodies. The fat cells contain mitochondria which produce energy and regulate our bodies heat. Brown fat uses white fat as energy. Therefore the more brown fat you have the more white fat you are going to burn. To increase levels of brown fat in the body we have to stress the system and cause it to adapt. We do this through cold exposure. Training outdoors in the winter will ensure that your levels of brown fat will increase, this in turn will increase the amount of fat you're burning helping you lose weight. Brown fat activation has also been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and increase longevity.
In the winter time us humans become hermits. We spend as much of our time indoors as possible out of the cold and extreme weather. In doing so we deprive ourselves from much needed sunlight. Though there is significantly less sunlight available during winter months with shorter days and cloudier skies it is still there, this is why plants still grow and those solar panels on your roof still produce energy. By shutting ourselves in and confining ourselves to our homes we massively increase the risk of becoming SAD (seasonal affective disorder). By getting outside we increase levels of serotonin which offset depressive thoughts and feelings aka the winter blues. We also require sunlight to produce Vitamin D, and Vitamin D is an essential factor in the maintenance of our bodies helping to keep us strong and healthy.
3. Makes you tougher
When you train for a particular goal like increasing the size of your biceps you shock the bicep muscle through different exercises promoting adaptation. The same can be done to our central nervous system. By getting out there in the cold and the rain in a controlled environment (like monmouths own primal fitness class) we stress our central nervous system, this forces our bodies to create adaptations which leads to more immunity. A physical example of this is an increase in brown fat as discussed in point 1, but there are many other adaptations which take place within our bodies at a cellular level leading to an increase in immunity from exposure to the cold.