We all know that the cold winter weather doesn’t do much for our motivation to exercise. It just sounds so much more appealing to stay in your nice warm bed instead of venturing outside for your next sweat session. If you’re experiencing feelings of depression, lethargy and irritability, aka the winter blues, you’re not alone, but what does the winter weather do to us physically?
Training during the winter can be particularly difficult, not just mentally, but physically too. Here are some things you need to know about working out during the coldest months:
Cold weather can cause tighter muscles and joints. The cold can make muscles lose heat and contract. This contraction causes your muscles and joints to tighten, diminishing range of motion. Nerves can also be pinched more easily. You’ll want to avoid having tight muscles by focusing more on your warmup prior to physical activity. Try starting your workout with a walk on the treadmill. The goal is to raise your core temperature and get your blood flowing throughout your body. If the temperature is between 35 and 45 degrees, warm up for about 10 minutes. For each 10-degree drop, extend your warmup period by 5 minutes. Combine exercises like body weight squats, lunges and bicycle kicks with stretching the tightest muscles in your body such as the hamstrings, quadriceps and shoulders.
Yikes! My muscles hurt! The cold weather actually makes your muscles work harder to complete the same movements that they did more easily during the summer months. This can create more damage to the muscle tissues and, as a result, your muscles can ache more during the winter. A longer warmup period like the one described above can help with reducing some of the increased muscle soreness.
Chemically, your body wants to store more fat. Production of ATLPL, a chemical that promotes fat storage, can almost double during the winter and drops during the summer. Don’t get the fat pants out just yet! Those that are physically active are less likely to experience weight gain.
I’m craving carbs! Winter can make us crave more carbohydrates because the decreased amount of sunlight causes the serotonin in the brain to be less active. When the amount of this mood-lifting chemical decreases, your feelings of tiredness and hunger increase. Eating carbs can make your serotonin levels rise. To avoid some serious weight gain, try to go for the healthier carbs like sweet potatoes and oatmeal. Cravings get stronger later in the day, so eat your vegetables and protein earlier in the day and then you can have a carb snack in the afternoon.
Even the most advanced athletes struggle during these cold winter months. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Your FIT36 trainers can help you rock your workouts this winter! Rely on us to stay motivated and you’ll no doubt be summer ready!