For my fellow running enthusiasts out there – this one is for you. Whether you’re a competitive runner or simply enjoy it as a hobby, it’s no secret the many health benefits associated with it – both physically and mentally. Running could significantly boost your mood, reduce stress levels, and improve heart health. For me, nothing beats running outside. I believe it provides a perfect space to gather your thoughts and relieve stress, while enjoying nature simultaneously – something that running on a treadmill just can’t compete with. If you’ve ever experienced the “runner’s high” after a workout in the great outdoors, you know how addictive the feeling can be! And that makes it even harder to give up running, no matter the weather.
As it gets colder outside, it’s certainly not unusual for our motivation to slightly dwindle when it comes to engaging in our favorite activities, especially those that require physical exertion. When the sun is out, more and more people are inclined to exercise and stay active, as it tends to be more pleasant. On the other hand, in the snow, rain, or sub-freezing temperatures, it’s tempting for us to crawl under a fuzzy blanket and have a movie marathon instead of heading to the gym or out for a run.
However, if possible, you should strive for a healthy balance between staying inside on the coldest, nastiest days and engaging in activities which get your heart rate up and prioritize your overall health. Don’t let the fear of winter weather get in the way, so let’s try to beat the winter blues together by staying active. To increase activity, you can try a few simple tips including:
- Bring a buddy. Making plans with a friend to jog together, even in the cold, will motivate you even more and could also be a good opportunity to increase social interaction and catch up. Accountability is everything!
- Layer accordingly. Keep in mind that your body will heat up quickly once you start running, so if you are running outside, it’s important to find that healthy balance of staying warm but not too warm. To avoid discomfort or potential overheating, dress like it’s 10-15 degrees warmer than it actually is.
- Be visible. Since it gets darker earlier in the winter and the conditions are unpredictable, it’s crucial to be as safe as possible, meaning you should be prepared. Try to time your run for daylight hours, whenever possible. Wear reflective clothing to stay visible – no matter what time it is, but especially at dusk or when its dark. Always make sure you’re aware of your surroundings, particularly if you run on roads. This means keeping your music at a lower level so you can hear what’s going on around you.
- Indoor track. If braving a run in the cold isn’t quite your speed, there are likely many tracks you could find and utilize in your neighborhood. Try a local school and of course, the obvious, if your gym has one!
- Enjoy and stay alert. Whether you’re training or running for a hobby, keep in mind that the winter is usually for keeping your base, so you shouldn’t focus as much on the numbers or push your body beyond its limits in harsh conditions. Since cold temperatures and unpredictable weather can make your run tougher than usual, try not to focus so much on your time but rather, on enjoying yourself and staying safe. If you are training, this will also ensure that you’re avoiding injury or slowing down your momentum.
Even if you’re not a dedicated runner, all that matters is you’re doing what works best for you. If that’s running outside every day, just stay safe and make sure to pace yourself. If you would prefer to stay active another way, that’s great too. Try your best to stay active this winter – you won’t regret it!