How Winter Weather Impacts Your Weight Loss Journey



  • Cold weather may discourage physical activity.
  • Being outdoors is good for mental health.
  • During colder weather, our bodies may actually burn bonus calories.

For many, the winter season is marked by time spent indoors with family and friends, eating good food and enjoying the company of loved ones. However, the activities of the season can also interrupt healthy eating and exercise habits. But winter doesn’t have to be an obstacle to your health. Here’s some advice from the experts.

Don’t Set Too Many Diet Restrictions For Yourself

You might think that setting diet rules for yourself, especially around special occasions, will prevent your planned weight loss or fitness journey from going off the rails. But according to research, rules can sometimes actually work counterintuitively.

An Associate Professor and Eating Disorder Specialist from the University of Minnesota says that although the winter holidays can be a challenging time for healthy eating, an overly intense focus on diet “rules” can affect one’s relationship with food and their own well-being. It can even lead to more overeating. Ultimately, extreme healthy eating can become a psychological concern.

How To Stay Active When It’s Cold Outside

Part of your fitness and weight loss journey is staying active. But, in the cooler months, many people find this difficult.

Luckily, even small amounts of exercise are beneficial, according to experts from Harvard Health. Researchers concluded that 15 minutes of moderate activity and as little as eight minutes of vigorous activity each day can reduce your risk of early death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following ideas for getting in extra activity during cold-weather periods: walk a few laps at the shopping center on your next store run, take the stairs at every opportunity, park farther away instead of relentlessly hunting for a nearby parking spot, or go for a group walk when your friends or family visit you. Whatever you decide to do, keeping the body moving is essential for offsetting the extra calories that often come with winter eating.

Cold Weather Exercise Is Surprisingly Good For You

Although you might find it more difficult to exercise in the winter, the good news is that your body might work in your favor when it’s cold out. That means, the exercise you do manage to accomplish might have bonus benefits.

Research shared by the National Institutes of Health has shown that cold weather can activate “brown fat” in our bodies, a type of fat that burns calories to generate heat. This means that exercising in the cold can potentially boost calorie burn, making winter workouts even more effective.

In conclusion, the winter season doesn’t have to be a season of shame and guilt about overeating and inactivity. By avoiding overly restrictive diets and staying active indoors or embracing the cold for workouts, you can maintain a healthy balance during the winter season.

The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.