Is Running in the Cold Bad For You Or The Perfect Time to Exercise?

Is Running in the Cold Bad For You Or The Perfect Time to Exercise?

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If you think that winter is the wrong time of the year to get an outdoor workout in, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Most of us decide to hit the gym when the temperature drops and slug our miles out on the dreaded treadmill.

Oftentimes telling ourselves that it's not safe running during winter months.

Soak Up That Sunshine

If this is you, you may be robbing yourself of a much needed dose of Vitamin D and not even know it.

That could also explain the slight decrease of mood you might have experienced lately.

Yes, Vitamin D is proven to help increase your mood, especially from regular exposure to sunlight.

However, if you can't get outside at least you can still get some amount of Vitamin D by taking some Vitamin D supplements

Boost That Immune System

Running or exercising outdoors in the winter months is even beneficial for your immune system.

It’s usually this time of year when the cold and flu makes its rounds and affects anyone in sight.

Even a few minutes of running around the neighborhood a day can make a difference between making a snowman with the kids or staying in bed all day feeling sick and worn down.  

In the summer months, running in the heat and humidity might have made your body feel a little more tired than normal after an outdoor workout.

Compare it to the winter time, where the air is cleaner and actually invigorating.

And contrary to popular belief, runners won't have frozen lungs from this.

Go That Extra Mile And Burn More Fat

Running in colder air is also proven to play a vital role in your endurance.

Which will, in turn, create longer workouts and burn more calories. 

That’s because in colder conditions, your body has to work harder to be able to regulate its temperature.

Yes, Old Man Winter can also be your best friend in fighting against fat.

Even if you don’t exercise regularly, being out when the air is chilly can help turn stubborn fat (or white fat) into the fat you can burn off (brown fat) more easily. 

Brown fat is what the body uses to keep you warm and raise your temperature. 

Add Those Layers

And to repeat what your dear mother (or grandmother) said best, bundle up and stay warm.

Layering your outer wear is the key for runners to survive the elements and be comfortable. 

When running in the frigid temperatures, your body decreases blood flow to your extremities to conserve heat for your vital organs.

Areas Most Vulnerable To Winter Conditions

  • Head, Neck, and Ears
  • Hands
  • Feet

What You'll Need For  Running Outside

  • Fleeced Lined Hat and Neck Gaiter
  • Moisture Wicking Gloves
  • Wool Socks

Covering these vulnerable areas will protect your body from the freezing temperatures and worse off frostbite.

Runners should go for moisture-wicking, dry fit material that will keep the heat in and also protect against chaffing. 

If you’re running during darker times of the day, be sure to wear reflective clothing so you'll be easily seen.

With that being said, if it's sunny out, you best put on sunscreen.

During the winter season, you might think the sun is not as strong but it's skin damaging rays are equally high throughout the year.

And dehydration doesn't just happen to your body when your running in the heat.

It’s important to drink plenty of fluids before and after all your workouts no matter what time of year it is to keep your body protected. 

During your winter workouts, runners need to remember the dangers of being exposed to freezing conditions.

Knowing the early signs of hypothermia and frostbite are an absolute must for runners. Here are the following signs for each:

Frostbite Early Warning Signs:

  • A prickly or numb feeling in your skin
  • Bluish-grey or redness of skin

Hypothermia Early Warning Signs:

  • Abnormal body temperature
  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of coordination
  • Fatigue

IMPORTANT: Hypothermia is a serious medical condition that can be fatal if untreated. If you seem to suffer from these signs of hypothermia, seek emergency help immediately.


There are so many benefits to running outside during the winter months.

The key is being prepared with the proper winter gear that will keep you safe from the elements.

Conditions can still be unpredictable at times, especially during the winter season.

So make sure you check the forecast to see what's in store for your activity.

While we’re on the subject of prevention, if you have any known medical conditions, it is important to seek the advice of your doctor before you jump outside and go for a winter run.

While there are definitely many things to consider, it's completely worth laces up those shoes and getting out in that crisp clean air.

Just be sure to take the needed precautions so you don't have to be banished to the treadmill until spring rolls around.