Exercising In Winter Wonderland!

Did you know? A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (“The Effects of Temperature and Seasons on Subcutaneous White Adipose Tissue in Humans: Evidence for Thermogenic Gene Induction”) found that cold weather workouts could burn more calories than warm weather workouts. 

There are some precautions that need to be taken in order to workout safely in the cold.


STAY HYDRATED. First, dehydration carries the same risk in cold weather as it does exercising in heat, except the body will feel up to 40% less thirsty in the cold. (The Effects of Temperature and Seasons on Subcutaneous White Adipose Tissue in Humans: Evidence for Thermogenic Gene Induction). 

When you breathe in cold, dry air, your body warms and humidifies that air. When you exhale, the vapor you see is actually fluid loss. When speed skaters practice they are skating indoors or outdoors, most of them wear a scarf over their face or a face mask to prevent dehydration and to keep their airways moist. A good rule of thumb is for every hour of physical activity in the cold or in the heat, the body needs 16 ounces of water. If you’re exercising longer than an hour, you need a drink withelectrolytes to replenish lost minerals. Body Armor Lyte is a good low-sugar option, available at Target and Amazon. 


When it comes to fueling up, your body will fatigue faster in the cold weather without adequate fuel. The cold slows down all of your body’s chemical processes, including your nervous system’s ability to generate muscle contractions. 

Two to-4 hours before your workout, and within 30-60 minutes of completing your workout, you should eat a carbohydrate and protein rich snack. This will properly fuel your body for exercise as well as replete glycogen stores in the muscles and stimulate muscle repair afterwards. 

Here are a few suggestions: 

 A fruit and yogurt smoothie 

Whole grain toast with nut butter 

An apple or banana with nut butter 

Watch the weather. To avoid hypothermia and frostbite, move your workout inside if the temperature drops below 0°F or the wind chill reaches -17°F. You are unlikely to get frostbite when the temperature is above 5°F and the wind blows at less than 25 mph, according to the National Weather Service, but that risk increases substantially as the temperature drops and wind speeds pick up. Exposed skin can develop frostbite in 30 minutes at a wind chill of -19°F. It’s best to dress in layers and pay special attention to extremities at highest risk of frostbite, like hands and fingers, feet and toes, tip of the nose, and ears. 

Shovel snow safely. It’s important to address the potential risks and dangers related to snow shoveling when discussing cold weather exercise. According to a 2020 statement from the American Heart Association, snow shoveling may carry increased risk for a cardiac event. 

Studies show that after only two minutes of snow shoveling, “participants’ heart rates exceeded 85% of maximal heart rate, which is a level more commonly expected during intense aerobic exercise testing.” Winter weather in general can contribute to the increased risk as cold temperatures may increase blood pressure while simultaneously constricting the coronary arteries. 

“The impact is hardest on people who already have cardiovascular risks like a sedentary lifestyle or obesity, being a current or former smoker, having diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, as well as people who have had a heart attack or stroke.” 

When shoveling snow, it’s important to listen to your body, shovel smaller amounts, take frequent breaks, and not work until exhaustion. WIth those precautions in mind, there are many safe and effective options for enjoying outdoor winter activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, ice skating, or simply walking and jogging outdoors. 

Please share this information with your friends and loved ones so that we can all stay safe and healthy this winter! x 

Jody Trierweiler, C.N.C is a health and fitness expert in Metro Detroit. You can learn more at Jodysfitlife.com @jodysfitlife on Instagram, or see her on Live In The D on WDIV-4 NBC Detroit sharing valuable information about improving your health.

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