Burn baby burn
If you’re carrying alittle more blubber than you strictly need to survive the winter, the good newsis that the falling temperatures will help you shed it. “Calorie burn can behigher in the cold, as the body has to expend energy on staying warm,” saysBlow.
The ice edge Recruit an unlikely ally in the battle of the belly by using arope-jumping routine. After warming up your limbs by making ever-wideningcircles with your arms and legs, jump rope as fast as you can for 1 minute,then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat the routine for 10-20 minutes, or until youtrip over. This activates your brown fat, a peculiar variety that helps youburn more calories from your regular lard stores. “If you stimulate just 3 ouncesof brown fat, it could help you burn an extra 400-500 calories a day,” says DrAaron Cypress of the Joslin Diabetes Centre in Boston. That should come inhandy for those ‘hearty’ winter meals.
Thaw the winter blues
As the nights creep in,levels of a feel-good chemical in your brain fall, leaving you staring down awinter of discontent. But research at Duke University in the US found thatcardio work will not only up the serotonin in your skull, but that it is fourtimes more effective at reducing symptoms of depression compared withantidepressants.
The ice edge The Duke study found that 30-minute cardio circuits are mosteffective in thawing your frosty winter outlook. Try a programme of squatjumps, press-ups, shuttle-runs and, if the bar’s not too cold, chin-ups. Theimportant thing here is actually not to push yourself too hard. The researchshows that you’re most likely to boost your mood with an exertion level you canhandle because this gives you a quick sense of accomplishment. Start with as littleas 2 sets of 10 reps, slowly building up over the weeks.
Rocky knew that trainingin the cold leads to increased toughness, and now the Balboa Conjecture hasbeen confirmed by science. US Army researchers recently gathered results of marathonsfrom the past few years. They found that male winners were, on average, only1.7% slower than the course record when the temperature was between 1-10C, andthat times fell dramatically as the temperature got hotter. They concluded thatthe ideal marathon temperature is a less than 5C.
The ice edge To build up your own long-haul winter endurance, Hazell recommendstime trials rather than distances, because the wind or rain might slow youdown. Commit to a half-marathon and you may not be seen for days. Instead, hesuggests alternating your training between steady, hour-long jogs targeting65-75% of your maximum heart rate and faster 30-minute runs where you slowlyaccelerate up to 85-90%. This builds your endurance levels efficiently,scrapping the need for longer-than-needed Arctic monkey business.
You know how cold weathergets you gasping? That’s a good thing. Running in shiversome conditions trainsyour body to use oxygen more efficiently. Research from Northern ArizonaUniversity found that after regular cold workouts, you add 29% to your runningspeed.
The ice edge From Sweden, where they know a thing or two about exercising in thecold, comes the unfortunately named ‘fartlek’ workout. After a 10-minutewarm-up jog, sprint for 30 seconds, followed by a 90-second recovery jog. Dothis three times, then reduce your recovery jogs by 15 seconds each time untilyou are sprinting for 30 and jogging for 15. Jog for ten minutes to warm down.“Running in temperatures that dip to near freezing is the perfect springboardto building higher fitness next year,” says Jeff Hazell, a PT with the MilitaryFitness Group.
Put stress on ice
The tumbling mercury doesnothing for the cold walk to the office, but it will at least shift the stressthat builds up during the day. Dr Peter Clough from the University of Hullfound that exposure to cold water washes away work stress.
The ice edge Clough’s research recommends a cold bath or shower before workevery morning, but if you want to get hardcore, then give cold-water swimming asplash. You can find your nearest club at outdoorswimmingsociety.com. Use a wetsuit andlimit your water time to 20 minutes. As well as freezing toes and reducedstress, you’ll also increase your body’s circulation, reducing your risk ofheart disease. Assuming that first dip doesn’t give you cardiac arrest, ofcourse.
Snot enough sweat
Staying active during thewinter is your best defence against colds and seasonal flu. Research from theMayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research in the US found that you’llcut your risk of man-flu by 20-30% as regular cold-weather training boosts yourimmune system.
The ice edge Lace up, pack on the layers and hit the streets. Research from IowaUniversity shows that 45 minutes of running per day reduces your risk of fluthrough the darker months. To ensure you don’t seize up during the first 10minutes, those layers are crucial. “Extra clothing keeps your muscles warm butit’s also important not to overheat,” says sports scientist and PT Andy Blow (votwo.co.uk). “Having clothing with vents orzips really helps.” He recommends the Nike Storm Fly (£75, runningshoeslondon.co.uk).