Benefits of training in winter Cold muscles are at a greater risk for strains and injuries, so make sure to warm up before your cold-weather workout

Coach Ngoni Fitness Correspondent

Losing weight has never been easy, but the task becomes even more challenging when the temperature takes a sharp dip.

The cold weather influences our weight loss process in many ways. We become less active, we drink less water, we turn more towards processed food for comfort and our body gets less vitamin D due to decreased sunlight.

All these factors together slow down the metabolism, making it tougher for our body to shed kilos and maintain a healthy weight. Many people even tend to gain weight during winter, which in general terms is known as winter weight.

What you need to do is shift your weight loss strategy as per the change in weather. Making some positive changes in your daily routine and diet, keeping the cold weather in mind can help your stay on track and shed kilos.

 Burn more calories

Whatever workout you do, the cold weather will max out your caloric burn. This is due to the body working much harder to keep its core temperature regulated. As the body works to stay warm, the metabolism is kicked into overdrive and your body burns through more calories and fat.

Warm up could go like this

  • Warming up to the cold

Cold muscles are at a greater risk for strains and injuries, so make sure to warm up before your cold-weather workout.

You want to avoid starting with static stretches, that is, not moving the body part while stretching, which can further increase your risk for injury.

More dynamic forms of stretching that keep body parts moving can loosen your joints, get your blood flowing, and warm up muscles and tissues.

Here is a pre-exercise routine you can try:

Arm circles: Hold your arms out to the sides, palms down, at shoulder height.

Begin making small circles and gradually make them larger until you complete 20 circles.

Then go from large to small circles until you complete another 20.

Arm swings: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and swing your arms in unison to the right and then to the left, twisting from the waist. Go back and forth until you complete 10 swings total (five toward each side).

High steps: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

Raise your right knee high toward your chest (touch a wall for balance or place one or both hands around your knee, if needed).

Hold for a second, then return to the starting position. Repeat the movement with your left knee. Go back and forth until you’ve lifted each knee five to 10 times.

Lunges: Stand with your feet together and step forward with your right leg, lowering your body by bending both knees to 90° angles.

Return to the starting position and repeat the movement with your left leg forward. Repeat the sequence five to 10 times.

Here are the 16 winter training benefits:

Increased blood flow and circulation to all the arteries and veins — the body has to use and switch on its internal radiator.

Burn more energy and fat stores — due to more energy being required to heat up the body’s core temperature.

The body’s immune system is tested against the cold and therefore has to improve itself.

Cooler temperatures than summer for outdoor exercise — less sweat/smell!

We can offset and balance the damage done by Christmas treats and family meals.

Embracing the outdoors and remembering nature is our friend, not the enemy.

Reducing the risk of injury for trips and falls on icy paths — by strengthening the body, using daily workouts.

Improved cardiovascular system — from breathing in cold, crisp air and using outdoor training workouts.

Increased mental strength and robustness

New beliefs about working out can be achieved — when the going gets tough.

The body will be ready for skiing — active holiday at a moment’s notice.

Improved chances of better workout — because you have to push yourself physically harder to get warmer in the cold.

Increased chance of enjoying an indoor gym and the benefits of this type of training eg weights / TRX/ group classes.

Increased resting metabolism — due to tapping into the bodies reserves in the cold.

Improves the mind by lifting the mood when it’s darker or cloudier in winter.

Get to feel like rocky training outdoors in the snow in the movie “Rocky 4” in Russia!

Types of exercise to be encouraged in winter:

Walking outdoors

Cycling outdoors (mountain biking etc)

Interval jogging outdoors (walk/jog 30 second intervals)


Indoor gym workouts

Indoor fitness classes

Snow shoeing

Nordic skiing

Ice skating

Hot yoga inside

TRX outdoors

A great guy to look up on the internet is Wim Hof.

He has lots of cold weather exercises that can help with preparing for the cold and the benefits it brings.

Ngoni (coachforeignguy) from Invictus Fitness Centre

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