I know what you are thinking. It's cold and the thought of parting with your warm and comfy blanket is unthinkable. People's obsession with their beds and couches skyrocket the moment the temperatures plummet. Netflix and Chill is no longer an option but a mandate.
Few reap the rewards
Despite that, there are these select number of people who get up, dress up and show up for a winter bike ride. Why on earth would they do that you ask? Because they want to reap the amazing benefits only a unique situation like this can provide. In this article I will tell you exactly why winter cycling is considered to be one of the best things to do in cold weather. I bring you the 7 Unrivaled Benefits of Winter Cycling.
1. YOU WORK OUT HARDER
When out in the cold our natural tendency is to start moving to increase body heat. This results in dramatically increased calorie burn during workouts. According to University of Utah Study your body’s basal metabolic rate (the amount of calories you burn doing nothing) slightly increases when in the cold. And when you start to shiver the calorie burn increases. In warmer weather, we tend to move less because there is just no direct visceral reward for moving. In cold weather, we get immediate relief from the cold when we move due to the heat it produces. Though not directly, being out in the cold ultimately leads to more caloric expenditure.
Dont overdress or partially cover - the best way to dress for winter is to have good coverage over the majority of your body. Most people always forget to wear gloves and scarves that cover areas of the body that leak body heat. In addition, wearing overly thick jackets results in uneven distribution of insulation. They end up sweating while their hands and neck get cold and uncomfortable. The trick is to cover up well but just enough that you are comfortably cool. For a more detailed guide on how to optimize winter insulation, check out this amazing "advice from a Canadian" on r/lifeprotips.
2. COUNTERACT HOLIDAY WEIGHT GAIN
Studies found people tend to gain 7-10 lbs. during the holiday season. Obviously this is not a surprise. The amalgamation of delicious food, good conversation and free stuff just makes us extra blubbery. Also the fact that people tend to spend more time indoors decreases our daily calorie expenditure simply because of the fact that we move less. Cycling during the winter not only boosts our calorie maintenance, the healthy routine formed during winter cycling makes us more mentally-prepared to make healthy choices. This make its easier to resist over-indulging for extended periods of time.
Group bike before a big feast - Encourage friends and relatives to be healthier during the holidays by having groups bikes before or after a big feast. Fun group activities are the best way to persuade people who normally would be reluctant to participate. If you are concerned for the health your family or loved one, group biking during the holidays is the best time to get them started.
3. DRAMATICALLY IMPROVE YOUR MOOD
Due to a combination of shorter daylight hours, darker days and the tendency to stay in due to cold weather, winter is known to cause or worsen depression. Being around people and going out more often when biking will improve your daily mood during winter. Studies have shown that cyclist are essentially happier people due to a combination of psychological and physiological factors that contribute to better mind-body health. One notable factor is known as the runner’s high which is also experienced by cyclists and any people who regularly engage in strenuous activities. It is also known to act as a natural antidepressant.
Join a community - Joining group cycling communities is a great way to meet new people. It makes the experience of cycling during winter a lot more rewarding and fun. Some great places to meet cyclists are on facebook groups and on meetup where you can search for group events near your area.
4. AVOID GETTING SICK
According to a study on cold-exposed and cold adapted humans, the immune system shows an increase in immune system activity when exposed to repeated cold treatments. However, the most interesting fact relating to winter sickness is revealed by Harvard stating that it is not the cold that makes us sick but the fact that we spend more time indoors in close proximity to other people thus increasing the exchange of germs in an enclosed space.
Embrace the cold - Athletes use a technique known as contrast therapy to treat injuries and reduce inflammations from training. It consists of immersing the body or body part in cold water and then immersing it in warm water. Cycling in the cold and taking a nice relaxing warm shower right after would reasonably have the same anti-inflammatory effect relieving your body random of aches and pains.
5. SAVE A LOT OF MONEY ON GAS
Gas and fuel expenditures during winter skyrocket due to the demand for heating. Winter cycling helps you save money by using less fuel when traveling and less home heating due to less sensitivity to the cold. Ever wonder people in New York think 60 degrees Fahrenheit is nippy while people in the West Coast thinking anything under 65 is freezing? It's conditioning. The more conditioned you are to the cold the less you are bothered by it.
Buy a bike rack - It opens up a whole new world of transportation opportunity. You can drive to a place and continue the rest of the way on bike optimizing your gas savings and increasing the efficiency of the commute you’d otherwise travel on foot.
6. THE BEST BIKES FOR WINTER
Fear not when you hear the phrase winter is coming. Single speed fixed gear bikes are the most reliable and durable bikes especially during winter months. The cold weather will easily wear out the typical multiple speed bike simply because of the fact that it has more moving parts. Fixed gear bike frames and drive-trains are known for being durable; capable of withstanding extreme temperatures changes and weather elements better than any other bike
Buy bikes online during winter season - When the temperatures drop so do bike prices online due to consecutive holidays and big sale events such as Black Friday, Thanks Giving, Christmas and New Year. People buy them off of their local bike shop, however, for those who want to check it out, we have a full collection of high-end fixed gear bikes at an affordable price.
7. IT SMASHES FITNESS PLATEAUS
A common term in many fitness disciplines is “plateauing.” It is the state of having no improvements/gains despite continuous training. The common cause for plateauing is a subconscious tendency to stick to a comfort zone. There are techniques called muscle confusion that help activate new growth and stimulate new ways to tackle old problems. Winter cycling operates on the same principle.
Training in the cold is a true test to ones mental fortitude oftentimes leading to complete total state of flow that does not only make you step beyond your comfort zone but leaps and bounds and break through it leading to astounding fitness gains, weight loss and overall improved athleticism. For devoted athletes, winter cycling should not be an option but a time to prove your dedication.
You take a deep breathe. Exhale and see misty winter fog. A wondrous world is right in front of you ripe for the taking. Winter cycling opens a whole new world of challenges and benefits for those who participate. Like mind-body therapy it infuses you with both physical and psychological benefits that not only will give you benefits, it will bring you great memories of amazing discoveries, personal achievements and all around great time. These are the unrivaled benefits of winter cycling and you should be out there on your bike when the hand strikes rotation. Happy cycling!