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8 November 2016

Winter is the Best Time of Year to go Running, New Study Finds

When winter rolls around and glorious sunshine is replaced by strong winds and bitter cold, it can be a significant challenge just summoning the necessary motivation to continue with the fitness regime you’ve been perfecting all summer. If you’re anything like me, then simply getting out of bed is an impossibility before the refreshing scent of fresh coffee starts creeping up the stairs.

Well, apparently, we’ve been approaching it all wrong, as a new study conducted by a research team at St Mary’s University in London suggests that winter is actually the best time of year for such activities. A couple of different factors contribute to this effect.

During the British summer, the average jogger sweats approximately 1.3 litres over a 40-minute time period. This loss of water, which can lead to dehydration if improperly managed, forces your body to work harder to counteract its effects. The cooler conditions in winter will help to reduce this.

Another contributing factor is your heart rate, which is slowed in colder conditions; a large part of the reasoning for this is the fact that your body, significantly cooler than it would be partaking in a similar exercise during winter, has less need to bring blood to the surface in order to dispel excess heat. The reduced strain can in turn reduce your heart rate by as much as 6%, affording you extra stamina and performance.

As part of the study, the researchers observed six male athletes as they carried out two 40-minute runs; one at 22°C and another at 8°C. At the higher temperature, the increased cardiovascular strain was shown to result in a worse performance. In fact, the research further suggested that winter conditions could reduce the time needed to complete a 10km run by as much as two minutes. That may not sound like much, but in competitive running even a few seconds saved can be the difference between a win and a loss. Even if you’re not planning on running competitively, you can use the time and energy saved to force yourself on for longer, increasing the benefits of your exercise regime.

Summarising the team’s findings, Professor John Brewer stated:

“It may be nice when the sun is shining, but very quickly your body starts to overheat, so it has to cope with producing energy to get from A to B and also keep you cool.”

So maybe a winter run isn’t so bad after all…

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.