We’ve got bad news.

Though winter is a great excuse to hibernate, cuddle indoors, munch comfort food and enjoy warm drinks topped with whipped cream, it’s an even better time of year to exercise outdoors.

Some even argue that it’s one of the best times to exercise outside because of all the benefits.

• Exercising in the cold burns a few more calories than working out in warm weather because your body fights harder (i.e. throws more metaphorical fat on the fire) to stay warm as opposed to simply sweating off water weight to cool you off.

• Exercises boosts immunity and that’s an even greater benefit in winter when more of us are in close quarters breathing, coughing and sneezing on one another.

• Exercise elevates your mood, which is a big plus for anyone dealing with seasonal depression.

• Exercising outside has even bigger benefits for anyone remotely affected by seasonal affective disorder as well because it comes with a shot of healthy sun rays, even on a cloudy day (but don’t forget sunscreen).

• And last but not least, exercising in the cold thwarts the self-fulfilling prophecy of winter weight gain.


 “The more active you are, the better you’ll feel,” said Hellfish Fitness boot camp coach and personal trainer Tom Kavanaugh. “There’s nothing special about winter and exercising in the cold, but people like to use it as an excuse NOT to exercise, and there’s no benefit in that.”

He said you need to adhere to a few more precautions in the cold, but nothing more daunting than exercising in hot weather.

“Running in the summer and sweating a lot is not a good indicator of calorie burn,” said Jay Perez ofEvolution Fitness. “You can sweat, sweat, sweat and not lose weight and end up with a headache.”

However, running in winter can be more effective if you end up running longer because you’re more comfortable outdoors, he said. Just be sure to give yourself a longer warm-up.

“You see someone running in shorts in the cold weather because the temperature becomes irrelevant after your body heats up to a certain temperature and stabilizes,” Perez said. “Walking or running in the cold will, in general, make your body burn more calories, but that doesn’t mean you can sit in the cold and like get some big calorie benefit.”

You have to move, he says, echoing First Lady Michelle Obama’s fitness campaign slogan.

Kavanaugh agreed, saying that a leisurely walk isn’t really exercise. He said everyone walking around with a “fitness” tracker looking to achieve a magic goal of 10,000 steps is missing an important point.

“Walking is better than sitting at your desk, but …” Kavanaugh said. “The tracker doesn’t know your potential, so if you can walk a little faster do it.”

There’s a big difference between 10,000 lethargic mindless steps and 10,000 mindfully well-paced ones. Can you walk double-time from the office building to your lunch destination or at least to the car?

“I guess, it’s easier to rationalize not working out because it’s too cold, or too hot,” Kavanaugh said. “But if you wait until spring and you’re 15 pounds heavier, that will be even harder to lose.”

Sworkit • 
Offers great visuals, a timer, daily reminders and rewards based on the points you accumulate. There’s a vast variety of strength, cardio, yoga and stretching customizable sequences that allows you to pick increments as low as 5 minutes. Free for iPhone, iPad and Android and there’s also a Sworkit Kids at sworkit.com.

Workout for Men by UBMobile Inc
Curates exercise and strength training videos that highlight routines to train each part of your body. Everyday there is new content, including recipes, that can be favorited and added to your personal list to use again later. Discover cardio, stretch training, flexibility routines and view instructional videos on nutrition and proper exercise techniques, like “how to run faster without pain.” Free for Apple devices in iTunes.

Nike + Fitness Club
A great app with more than a 100 workouts crafted by Nike master trainers for people of all fitness levels. Select your goal and follow workout daily plans (including rest days) to get lean, get toned, get strong or get focused. Like the other apps, workouts are demonstrated with impressive video tutorials. Free for Apple and Android devices atnikeplus.com.

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