9 Benefits of Winter Walking

Old Man Winter is here with more yet to come. But just because the cold air is nipping at your nose and the temperatures are dropping doesn’t mean your regular walking practice needs to change. In fact, here are 9 reasons why winter walking is actually quite good for you.

  1. Lift your mood naturally. There’s nothing that can match the power of fresh air and sunshine. Both are good for your mood and help to stave off the winter blues. Plus. that burst of cold air helps you clear your mind and lower your stress levels.

  2. Sunlight does a body good. Vitamin D is crucial for strong bones, and since it’s not an easy vitamin to get through your diet, sun exposure is key. Research shows that just 5-30 minutes of sunlight each week helps you get the Vitamin D you need, and since you can’t get it through windows, an outdoor walk is key!

  3. Zap the calories. Now, we are into this walking thing for our overall wellness and fitness, but hey, burning a few more calories isn't bad. Because your body is also working to stay warm, research suggests that a cold weather walk burns more calories. So if you’re walking for weight loss, pick up the pace and pack a punch with your winter walk.

  4. Activate your immune system. Studies have shown that walking outside in winter can wake up your immune system and decrease inflammation. Just 30-45 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each day can increase the number of immune system cells in your body needed to fight off those pesky winter colds.

  5. Boost energy without the caffeine. A cold weather walk has been shown to result in a meaningful energy boost that lasts for hours after your walk. So when those eyelids start to droop mid-day, ditch the brew in exchange for a brisk walk.

  6. Alter your body fat. During the winter, our bodies work hard to stay warm, and what helps with that is brown fat. This study shows that extended exposure to cooler temperatures helps change our obesity-causing white fat to the warming and metabolism-boosting properties of brown fat. Now there’s a fitness challenge we can get behind!

  7. See a different world. There’s something about a fresh snowfall or a chill in the air that helps us take in a new perspective. When you’re out for your winter walk, take note of the change in scenery. The sound of your footsteps. And the critters that may be frolicking in their warm winter coats. You just might rediscover why you love your surroundings.

  8. Breathe easier. Winter often provides us with cleaner air. Fewer pollutants and outdoor allergies give us the chance to really take a deep breath and restore our bodies with a fresh, calming and cleansing breath.

  9. Fall asleep faster. We all know that cooler temperatures help you sleep better, and winter walking allows your body temperature to take less time to cool down. You just may notice it a bit easier to nod off at the end of the day resulting in a more restful night’s sleep.

There’s no doubt that continuing your regular walking practice during the winter has many benefits, so don’t let a change in temperature slow you down. However, if your heart or respiratory system is compromised in any way, check with your doctor because walking in the cold does put additional strain on these systems. But if you are well and reasonably fit, layer up and embrace the cold. If the roads are icy, this might be a good time to leave your Jetti Poles at home, but if the sun is shining and the streets are clear, bring 'em along! You just might find your most restorative walks are during the winter season.