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Exercising Outdoors in the Winter

As the temperature drops, the motivation to get outside and move seems to drop as well. But before you resign yourself to a stuffy gym treadmill for the rest of the winter, consider these benefits of breaking a sweat outside this season.

First, take a look at the weather and prepare yourself for the elements. Keep in mind the temperature and wind chill before choosing what gear to wear. Exercise, regardless of the temperature, generates a lot of heat. Dress in layers based in a material that wicks away sweat, and can be easily taken off or put back on when needed. Avoid cotton based materials as they lock in sweat and keep moisture close to the skin. Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia, which can affect the hands, face and ears, as well as any exposed body part. Wearing moisture-wicking gloves, hats or ear muffs are the best way to prevent frostbite and hypothermia, while also keeping you warm. The most important thing to remember about exercising in the winter is hydration. The dry winter air causes us to lose water through sweat faster, and without us really feeling like we’re sweating. As opposed to the summer months that may leave you drenched after an outdoor run. Hydration is key to sustaining a great winter workout.

Once you have prepared for the elements you can now reap the benefits of this chilly workout. It is said that exercising in the cold can increase calorie burn, do to the extra effort the body puts into regulating its normal temperature. It takes much more energy to warm up than it does to cool down. It’s one of the easiest ways to ward off that holiday weight gain. Stay consistent with outdoor exercise and you’ll build a tolerance to the cold. Running from the car to the nearest building will no longer be similar to an olympic event. Finally, you’ll get to soak up some of those sparse bits of sunshine, which will boost your levels of Vitamin D and endorphins, increasing happiness and energy level!

The CDC recommends at least an hour of moderate to vigorous activity a day, at least three times a week. Lace up your shoes, get moving, and have a head start on those New Year’s Resolutions!