Let’s face it — it’s tough to find the motivation to exercise outside through the wintertime. But if you can pull yourself away from that cosy seat in front of the fireplace, there are real benefits to working out in the winter months. For a start, you will burn more calories and specifically more fat.
ATP is the body’s energy currency, and there are three separate energy systems through which ATP can be produced. Each system uses a relatively small amount of energy in order to release a larger amount from stored compounds – in the form of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
When we exercise at high intensity, we first deplete our carbohydrate stores to produce energy. This is in the forms of glucose in our blood, and glycogen stored in the liver and muscles. Energy from fat is utilised to some degree, and more so during periods of endurance training.
We have two forms of stored fat: white (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT). WAT is more of an inert fat storage, while BAT is more metabolically active. In cold temperatures BAT is activated and utilised to generate heat to maintain body temperature, before we get to the point of shivering.
So exercising in the cold is a double win – fat stores are not only utilised to fuel activities, but also to generate heat. With consistent training, you can push your endurance to the next level: relying on your body’s fat reserves to power you, rather than your carbohydrate stores, or high energy gels and drinks. Training your body to use these fat stores may take a little time, but it’s really worth the effort.
Take your exercise outdoors this wintertime. There is still time to lose those extra pounds in time for the party season, then combat your Christmas overindulgences in the New Year!
By Victoria Pitcher
Senior Chartered Physiotherapist