Looking for the burn? The last place you were probably about to look was where it’s coldest. Whether training in the hottest days of summer or the iciest patch of winter, all year round these benefits of cold training will make you (almost) glad of the chill.
If you’re after a solid calorie burning session, the cold is the answer. As your body expends more energy to keep your body warm and regulate your core temperature, this will boost the number of calories you burn during a workout.
Need a solution better than jogging in a walk-in freezer? Try wild outdoor swimming, which will also provide the following benefits:
Training in the cold is the best way to improve your immune system, according to a study by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. This is particularly handy when seasonal colds and bugs are going around in the colder months, with the study finding that regular outdoors exercise in the cold reduced the risk of flu susceptibility by 20-30 percent.
Your metabolism and circulation will also get a needed boost. Going with the example of wild swimming again, the effects of getting your heart and blood pumping will be heightened by the cold, aiding your circulation.
All exercise boosts your metabolism, but training in the cold results in a higher metabolic increase. This is because contending with cold weather encourages the body to transform everyday white fat—specifically belly fat and thigh fat—into calorie-burning “beige fat” (an energy-burning fat commonly found in athletes and those with a high lean muscle ratio.)
You can improve your athletic performance by conditioning your lungs to utilise oxygen more efficiently by going cold.
A good example of how cold training can help your endurance is with long distance running. You’ll have heard how many athletes train in higher altitudes and hotter climates in preparation for competition in warmer lands, but the same applies when you’re headed for a match, race or comp in colder weather.
A recent study by US Army Researchers found that winners were, on average, only 1.7 percent slower than the course record when the temperature was between 1-10C and that times fell dramatically as the temperature got hotter, concluding the ideal marathon temperature is less than 5C.
So where does the cold come in to play? You can build up your endurance by training in shorter bursts and build up to longer distances in the cold.
Chill Your Stress Levels
This one might come as a surprise given that the idea of icy waters conjures a stressful image for the average person, but a study has found that cold water is good for managing your stress levels. Research from the University of Hull found that exposure to cold water washes away your stress, recommending a cold shower before and after work. Another reason to look up a wild swimming destination.
There are benefits for your recovery too. By taking an ice bath after training this will reduce swelling and help flush lactic acid from your body by tightening your blood vessels.