Fuzzy socks, warm flannel sheets and cozy cuddles make it that much harder to get out of bed and crush those workouts during colder months. But is it worth it? Does working out in the cold weather actually burn more calories? Below we dive into whether or not the weather affects your calorie burn. Warm up with your favorite furry blanket and a skinny peppermint mocha because we are talking all things COLD!
Cold weather forces the body to work harder to keep your inner core protected. It pumps more blood to organs like the lungs and heart to keep them warm. The body needs to produce more heat than it is losing by you being cold. In extremely cases, the body is doing this to fight hypothermia.
To understand if we burn more calories in the cold, let’s first dive into how we burn calories normally and our metabolism. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. During this complex biochemical process, calories in food and beverages are combined with oxygen to release the energy your body needs to function.” The release of this energy is burning calories.
When you are just standing, sitting or resting– you are still burning calories. MC says these, “functions, such as breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing and repairing cells. The number of calories your body uses to carry out these basic functions is known as your basal metabolic rate — what you might call metabolism.”
So now that we know how calories are burned, we can start to understand if the cold can affect our calories burned. The consensus is YES! Yes, the cold does help you burn more calories.
According to Glen Haney, MA, certified personal trainer and exercise physiologist, in Women’s Health, “It is true that you burn slightly more calories in colder weather. That’s because your metabolic rate increases to warm your body, and that bit of extra work means more burn.” Unfortunately, Haney goes on to say, “But in the context of exercise, it’s just not enough to make it count. If you’re working out pretty intensely, the exertion is ultimately what makes the difference—not the cold weather.” Maybe not the answer we wanted, but anything is better than nothing.
Historically marathon run times are faster in colder weather than in warmer climates, your bodies are refreshed and awaken by the cold. They push harder to keep your warmth up. While there is no scientific research supporting a grandiose amount of extra calories burned, getting a few extra here or there doesn’t hurt in the colder months. So what we are saying is… enjoy your snuggles under a warm blanket, but know that some extra calories are out there for the taking in the cold. Throw on an extra layer and get to movin’!
What is your favorite way to workout in the cold? Tell me in the comments!