It's good to exercise all year round, but can you run in the winter? The answer is yes, but you need to take some precautions.
The benefits of running and jogging are undeniable. Many people find it easier to exercise when the weather is warm. Once the days are shorter, and the temperatures fall, they become more sedentary. There are even some old beliefs that it is dangerous to run outside.
The good news is that's a misconception. There are a lot of benefits to exercising in colder weather. So when the mercury drops, lace up your shoes and use these tips so you can run in the winter!
Can You Run In The Winter? The Benefits
There are a lot of significant benefits to running in winter. They range from the physical to mental and emotional.
- Running in winter helps deplete fat stores that can develop during this time. It is in our evolution to want to stay warm and dry when it is cold outside. That means staying inside and being inactive. We tend to eat more which causes us to store more fat. Running during this time of year helps us to keep burning the fat that would typically build up and cause us to gain weight.
- The days are shorter in the winter. The weather is usually a lot more gray. These conditions are ripe for causing depression. Running helps us to keep the blood flowing and to pump out hormones that make us feel better.
- You will find that you have more longevity in the winter. Heat is oppressive and dangerous. You can get overheated and be dangerously dehydrated before you realize it. There are fewer of those issues when it is cold outside. So you can work on your distance goals more in the winter and be ready for those 5K races and marathons in the spring.
How to Prepare for Running in Cold Weather
You will not run in the same shorts and tank top you wore in the summer. You have to dress for the weather. But you do not want to wear things that will cause you to overheat. Focus on your feet, hands, and head first.
1. Cover Your Head
You lose a lot of your body heat from your head. Wearing a hat or head covering is a great way to ensure you retain some heat. The great thing is that you can pull it off if you get too hot as you run.
You might want to consider a face mask for running in cold weather. Read our article for recommendations.
2. Get Some Gloves
Your hands will get cold before the rest of your body does. If you have ever seen news reports of people stranded in cold weather, you will hear them talk about how much the frostbite on their hands hurt. You should invest in a good pair of insulated gloves. You will find that if your hands are warm, the rest of your body feels warmer.
3. Keep Your Feet Dry
You probably wear a pair of running shoes that are light and breathable and a thin pair of socks when you run in the summer. Running in cold weather requires you to keep your extremities warm. You may have to find a pair of running shoes with a waterproof and insulated liner. This will help keep your feet dry if you run through water, snow or slush.
The second layer is your socks. Be sure they are insulated as well. You could get away with wearing two pairs of regular socks, but it is better to invest in getting something designed for what you are doing.
4. Keep Hydrated and Stay Safe
When it is cold outside, we take a little longer to work up a sweat when we exercise. Do not let that fool you into not drinking water while you are out there. Dehydration can come upon you quickly. So make sure you take water with you when you run. And drink often while you are running.
Winter can also offer another obstacle with the chance of running into ice patches on your path. If you are running early in the morning, it may not be as easy to see them. Wearing some shoes with good traction will help, but your best bet is to steer clear of them as much as possible. A slip while you are running could cause you to fall. You may turn your ankle or worse.
If you plan to run in winter, always take a mobile phone. If you fall and injure yourself, you need to be able to call someone to come and get you. You do not want to be stranded in the elements for very long in the bitter cold. Taking a phone can not only give you a way to call for help, but it can let rescue personnel locate you if needed.
Want to know more? Check out our article on how do runners train in the winter.