Many people don’t want to workout outside or in the elements because of many factors such as “it’s too hot” or “it’s too cold” or “too humid”, etc. In fact, there are MANY benefits to training in both the HEAT and the COLD! Besides just making you tougher as a person, training in cold temps and hot temps actually has a few physiological benefits.
I am the type of person who much prefers training in the heat. I love to sweat and love how my muscles automatically feel warm when it’s hot as opposed to when it’s cold. Having a garage gym where I do the majority of my workouts, I deal with the weather and the temperature of the season! One thing that helps during winter is to keep a small space heater in the garage and keep the door closed to outside as much as possible (the garage will hang on to some heat from the house). However, it’s still pretty cold out there! Little did I know that benefits exist on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to training in the heat and the cold. I will compare and contrast both.
BENEFITS TO HEATED TRAINING
Training in the “heat” or outside in the spring/summer not only boosts your mood by being outside, but also causes your body to burn more calories as it works harder to cool your body temperature during training (the same can be said in winter as your body has to do the opposite to keep your body temperature up). The heat acclimation also causes your body to have a lower resting temperature (which is always a good thing). Training in the heat improves aerobic exercise performance as it boosts hemoglobin levels which is the key protein that carries oxygen to the bodily organs and tissues.
Training in the heat also makes you STRONGER by challenging your body to adapt to the heat. Embracing these challenges will make you both mentally and physically stronger! Let’s face it – working out is tough enough but then add a hot day and lots of sweat and you have just amped up the workout even more. Tackling the challenge will leave you feeling fantastic and revived! Just be sure to drink plenty of water and electrolytes.
Also, training in a gym space such as a garage or the outdoors in the spring and summer allows your body to warm up much quicker therefore reducing the risk of injury, as well as sweat more. I always love a good, detoxifying sweat, but if you don’t love to sweat you can always work out earlier in the day to avoid getting as hot! I also love how if I take a small water break when I am training in the garage I don’t have to “work hard” to warm up again. My body stays warm because it’s usually 80-90 degrees consistently.
BENEFITS TO TRAINING IN THE COLD TEMPERATURES
Now on the opposite end of the spectrum…training in cold temperatures increases the body’s brown fat while reducing white fat cells. Brown fat is the GOOD fat – the kind of fat that burns calories – it breaks down blood sugar and fat molecules to create heat and maintain body temperature. This type of fat is activated by cold temperatures (even cold showers, cold exposure, ice baths). Too much white fat is what builds up as stored energy, leading to obesity. Regular cold exposure causes your metabolism to switch from burning carbs to torching fat! This also causes your body to burn more calories because your body is having to work hard to keep you warm as you train in cold weather.
Training in cold temps improves muscles’ aerobic function, meaning the muscles receive more oxygen during exercise. The reason this happens is the cold temperatures cause your blood vessels narrow therefore requiring your heart and lungs to work harder to get oxygen to the muscles! So this simultaneously makes the heart stronger as well as the muscles’ more receptive to receiving oxygen.
AND with having shorter days in the winter, it’s even more important to get outside and get vitamin D when possible and perform mood-enhancing workouts to boost serotonin levels and make you feel good! Cold weather training also cuts your risk of getting a flu or virus by 20-30% as your immune system has to work a bit harder as you train in cold temperatures – win-win! Stronger immune system, happier mind, better life!
So layer up and get out there this winter and embrace the cold temps! Or if you are like me and train in the garage, just invest in a small space heater to create SOME heat in the room, so that you aren’t training in 40 degree temps (maybe 45-55 degrees). Man, just talking about working out in the cold weather makes me super excited for fall and winter!
It’s time to get outside (or setup your own garage gym) and train! Embrace the elements! Toughen up! Training in the natural environment is good for you in more ways than one. There are ways to make yourself a little more comfortable, however, such as during winter months keep the garage door closed (naturally), dress in layers and purchase a space heater as I stated previously, so that you heat up the room just a touch. If it’s the middle of the day in the winter though you might can leave the garage door open to get the fresh air and sunlight! Also in the spring or summer you can put fans outside, or install a fan in the upper corner as we did, to at least give yourself some air circulation.
One tip is to avoid training during summer in the strongest heat of the day – try to workout a little earlier in the morning or later in the evening to avoid getting overheated. Make sure to have your Nuun electrolytes handy, too! These are my favorite for super sweaty workouts. I also keep a basket in the garage with fresh towels, Clorox wipes, and a fridge stocked with bottled water.