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Why Exercising in Winter is Scientifically Harder (+ How to Beat the Winter Workout Blues)

Press ups are more difficult in December. Fact. Here’s how to do them anyway.

Lola Rose Wood

Nov 28 2023

4 min read

It’s not all in your head! Working out in the winter doesn’t just feel harder because of the darkness closing in, it’s physically harder on your body too. Here’s why a normal gym session can feel twice as difficult in December – and all the tips and tricks to keep you moving with the seasons rather than against them.

The Vitamin D Dilemma

Winter’s shorter days mean less exposure to that glorious ball of fire in the sky, and this can wreak havoc on our vitamin D levels. Why should that effect your gym sesh? Because vitamin D is the secret sauce for maintaining muscle function and overall endurance. Higher levels of vitamin D are associated with better exercise capacity. The solution? Grab those supplements, snack on some oily fish (think salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines) and soak up whatever sunlight you can. 

Fuel Your Engine  

A study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that cold weather workouts can burn more calories compared to those done in warm weather because the body needs to work harder to perform in a harsher climate and to generate enough heat to keep warm. The cold also slows down all of your body’s chemical processes, including your nervous system’s ability to generate a muscle contraction – squat jumps really are harder in winter! The key? Make sure you’re giving your body the energy-packed food it needs to fuel it. Next time you take your Boxx+ workout to the park: pack a PB sandwich, a banana, mixed nuts or chocolate milk – whatever floats your boat and keeps those muscles packed with power. P.B Winter stands for Peanut Butter season – not Personal Best season.

You’re also more likely to suffer from dehydration in the winter (ironically) because the cold can diminish thirst by as much as 40 percent! Despite the fact your body is losing fluids every time you breath out (check those condensation clouds) you might not feel thirsty and thus end up dehydrated. Try bringing warm liquids, like tea,  to your next cold-weather workout and remember this rule of thumb: for every half hour of physical activity, whatever the weather, your body needs at least 250ml of water. 

Slow Your Roll  

Can’t face your usual fast-paced 5k? No one’s forcing you to! One option to keep you going through winter is to simply slow your pace. (Did someone say slow and steady wins the race?) It can be weirdly difficult to slow down. It’s often tempting to fall into the trap of thinking a slower or lighter workout is less effective or not worth your time – or even an insult to your ego. But the only thing that matters is showing up – there’s no ego on the mat. So if you need to turn your usual 30 minute HIIT class into 20 minutes of conditioning with Coach Maria –  do it, and count it as as win. Doing something is a hundred times better than doing nothing –  remember the Compound Effect Rule? If you’ve hit a brick wall with our Beginners Strength series due to the darker days, there’s no shame in swapping your usual dumbbells out for a lighter pair – the only shame would be missing getting a cheeky pump on with Coach Ollie. 

Variety is the spice of life 

Building a habit – or stacking existing habits to your advantage – doesn’t mean doing the same thing day in and day out. Repeating the same type of training over and over can be demotivating (not to mention dull!) which is why the Boxx+ app has dozens of different workout types from Boxxing HIIT and Boxxing Strength to core classes, full body stretching and our modified seated series of workouts. A small study by the University of Florida found that participants who repeated the same exercises in a workout (three times a week) were more likely to quit than those who varied the type of exercise between sessions, so keep mixing it up! Those with the more varied routine were also found to enjoy their workouts 20% more – and you know who the best boxxer is? The one who’s enjoying it the most. 

TLDR

Exercising in Winter IS harder so don’t beat yourself up – sleep more, eat more, drink more water and don’t be afraid to slow down. It doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop. Winter is all about the P.B (Peanut Butter not Personal Best!)

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Article Summary

Exercising in Winter IS harder so don't beat yourself up – sleep more, eat more, drink more water and don't be afraid to slow down. It doesn't matter how slow you go as long as you don't stop. Winter is all about the P.B (Peanut Butter not Personal Best!)

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