It’s officially December; the month of the year that welcomes winter and sends the running community to indoor treadmills where it’s cozy and warm. We know it’s hard to balance your holiday season to-dos with an unappealing cold workout, but here are five reasons to get out and run this December:
1. Vitamin D
What is Vitamin D? It’s the “Sunshine Vitamin”!
A lack of Vitamin D is one of the leading causes of seasonal depression and part of the reason we get sick more easily in the winter. Getting just 10-15 minutes of sunlight each day is great for your skin and can fight depression and illness. Taking advantage of the sunlight this winter for a short run will make you happier and healthier!
If the weather is too much to take on, and it’s hard to find that perfect, sunny running time, look for foods that are high in Vitamin D like fish, mushrooms, orange juice and milk.
2. Stronger Heart
In cold temperatures, the heart works harder to distribute blood to the body. Exercising in the cold is like running with ankle weights for your heart. The process builds more endurance and a tolerance for your heart to work at a higher rate. Once you’ve conquered the winter running, the spring weather will be a breeze for your heart.
3. Burn More Calories
Similar to your heart working harder in the winter, so does your entire cardiovascular system. Fighting the cold elements will cause you to burn more calories than a cozy, indoor treadmill run. Your sweat will dry and evaporate much faster in the cold air, but don’t think you’re sweating less, or burning fewer calories. Quite the opposite!
4. Train Different Muscles
When you run on a straight track or treadmill, your body tirelessly works the same muscles used to maintain your running posture and endurance. And that’s not always bad! While we don’t recommend sprinting down icy streets, hitting a road or trail coated in snow and various winter elements can help train other muscles in your body. That occasional lateral movement and the fight in your calves to propel through snow can be beneficial to getting more out of your run!
5. Eat More Holiday Food!
Running in the cold is a great combatant for winter weight gain. Our bodies are more susceptible to adding weight in the winter due to a decrease in activity level and a slowed metabolism. Getting out and running essentially tricks your body into coming out of hibernation. Not only that, but we all want to indulge in some holiday treats! If you want to feel better about eating a little unhealthy later in December (and I think we all do), make up for it by hitting the trails and streets now!