THE BENEFITS OF RUNNING, EVEN IN WINTER

“Running is first and foremost about well-being, and taking pleasure in keeping fit and healthy. I go jogging because it provides me with a range of benefits. When I go for a run, it clears my mind. If you're anything like me, you'll know it's important when there's a lack of daylight and you're low on vitamin D,” confides Cécile, Running Sports Leader in the Englos DECATHLON store (France).

If we had to write a book about jogging, it would be entitled 'Running and Its Many Benefits”. Mental stability, improved cardiac health, stress reduction... all regular runners will have experienced these perks.

But what effect do lower temperatures and cold weather have on running? Can you still enjoy the same benefits when the weather starts getting chillier? Or perhaps there are other advantages? Read on for our Q&A.

IS IT A BAD IDEA TO RUN WHEN IT'S COLD?

Certainly not! No study has ever shown the cold to be detrimental to physical activity (we're not talking about arctic conditions here, of course). However, you may have noticed that breathing in cold air can sometimes hurt your lungs. This in itself won't harm you - it's more about what you're used to and how keenly you feel the cold.

The key to coping with cold outdoor conditions is simply to cover up better. What do you need? Clothing that is both warm and breathable so that it wicks away perspiration to keep your body dry. This is because your worst enemy during cold weather is dampness that will cool down your body. That's why you should change out of all clothing immediately once you've finished training, including underwear.

Another tip: There's no point wearing overly thick clothing - you are better off layering up. Finally, remember to cover up your extremities, including your hands and ears.

CAN YOU BURN MORE CALORIES WHEN IT'S COLD?

Yes and no. It's true that some of the energy burnt by the body is used to warm up inhaled air so that it can be absorbed by the lungs. And burnt energy means calorie expenditure - the same calories you may be looking to burn for weight loss. However, if you are wearing the right clothing and training at your usual level of intensity, you won't burn more calories than usual. If you are used to running in cold weather and you're correctly equipped, your calorie expenditure will be the same as during the spring...

 

DOES RUNNING HELP TO CURE ACHES, PAINS AND SNIFFLES?

La course à pied guérit les maux ?

Perhaps you've noticed that running provides you with a feeling of well-being, including when you have a cold. This is undoubtedly due to the post-exercise endorphins boost. However, you won't get better any faster. On the contrary, if you are under the weather, exercising will use up vital energy your body needs to recover. Getting some fresh air may make you feel better, but it won't speed up your recovery. On the other hand, regular physical exercise generally boosts the immune system and makes you more resistant to illness. Bye-bye winter sniffles!

 

I DON'T HAVE TO STAY HYDRATED IN WINTER, RIGHT?

Wrong! Just because you're not thirsty and you don't feel sweaty or hot, it doesn't mean that your body isn't getting dehydrated. You may have the impression that you sweat less during the winter because it is cooler, but your body still needs water. Don't be fooled!

 

WILL RUNNING HELP ME BEAT THE WINTER BLUES?

There's only one answer here - yes!It's physiological: getting out and about is beneficial, mainly because it provides you with a good dose of daylight. Sunshine is an added benefit that provides your body with the vitamin D it needs. Before spring arrives, it's normal to feel a little lacklustre, especially during grey winter days. Going out for a run helps you get some fresh air, which is a great way to oxygenate your body and mind!

 

There is no reason to avoid going out for run during the cold weather. Just remember to spend more time warming up and to dress appropriately. And take advantage of all the benefits running has to offer!

Hélène PETOT

Article co-written by Hélène Petot, research and development engineer at the DECATHLON SportsLAB, and doctor of exercise physiology for performance and health

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