With the onset of the winter season, even outdoor running enthusiasts start to think twice about going out to train in the cold and frost. Unlike some sports such as football and five-a-side football (which can be played in all weather conditions), we are used to thinking of fitness as a set of activities that can only be practiced in the gym. But what if we wanted to challenge this belief?
Training outdoors and in colder temperatures is actually possible and has incredible physical and mental benefits. Stefano Marini, our fitness manager at Aspria Harbour Club Milan, explains why you should try it too.
Burn more calories
For the same amount of training, the body burns more calories in colder outdoor temperatures. This is possible thanks to our thermal self-regulation system. In simple terms, when our body senses that it is in cold temperatures, it triggers a "hypothermia alarm" with a consequent acceleration of the metabolism. This, combined with physical activity, causes our body to consume 10-15% more energy for the same amount of physical activity.
Lower blood pressure and reduce stress
Studies have shown that outdoor physical activity reduces a person's blood pressure and heart rate. Therefore, exercising outdoors seems less tiring than similar exercise indoors, bringing you closer to peak performance.
Moreover, exercising outdoors in places where the landscape is constantly changing – think of running or cycling - has positive effects on your psyche. The ever changing visual stimuli you encounter as you go through a park, for instance, have a positive impact on your mood, help us avoid boredom and keep our motivation high, pushing us to go further.
Fill up on vitamin D
Even in dark and cloudy winter weather, the sun's rays play a very important role in our health. The fresh air outside and the natural light invigorate and energise your mind and body. Sunlight provides us with vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones, kidneys, arteries and the immune system! Sunlight also increases energy production in muscles and tissue oxidation.
As we saw in the previous point, the benefits of sunlight during physical activity are incredible and also influence our sleep-wake cycle, which is too often disrupted by hectic rhythms and excessive exposure to blue light from PCs and smartphones.
Regular exercise combined with the beneficial effects of sunlight and fresh air will help you combat insomnia and improve the quality of your sleep.
Try something new
As mentioned above, exercising in new scenarios and natural spaces has huge benefits for our mood, reducing stress and preventing the risk of depression.
Aside from running and cycling, the possibilities for outdoor training are endless, whether it's in the wild or with specific equipment.
In fact, we have everything you need for your outdoor training in the gardens of the Aspria Royal La Rasante club or on the training terrace of the Aspria Arts-Loi.
Some tips before you start
· We never tire of repeating how important it is to warm up before doing any type of activity, and even more so during the winter season. Do a warm-up that is at least twice as long as your normal time. This will allow you to reach the desired temperature more quickly, avoid injury and perform better.
· It is also important to wear clothes that are suitable for the temperature and weather conditions. Listen to your body: as everyone has their own bio-rhythm. If you are cold, wear thermal and cold-resistant clothing.
· Don't forget to stay hydrated! The feeling of thirst in winter is naturally less than in summer. However, this should not make you forget to drink. So always carry a bottle of water with you.
All you have to do now is get out there and do your best!