Engaging in physical activity during winter enhances the body’s natural defense mechanisms against the cold, boosting metabolism, and stimulating the circulatory system, according to Polish scientists. Their study focused on the impact of winter activity on somatic parameters, body composition, and motor skills in men.
Winter exercise proves even more advantageous than in summer, increasing the production of immune cells, delivering more oxygen to the brain, thereby improving cognitive function, and elevating endorphin levels to combat seasonal mood fluctuations.
This insight stems from research conducted by scientists from four Polish universities. They demonstrated that outdoor winter activities lead to higher energy expenditure, particularly due to the additional energy needed to warm the body.
Dr. Jarosław Fugiel from the Department of Biostructure at the University of Physical Education in Wrocław, along with collaborators from other institutions, conducted an experiment evaluating the impact of winter physical activity on outdoor parameters, body composition, and motor skills in adult men. The results were published in the journal Healthcare.
Two groups of adult men participated in the study, matched in age, height, weight, and BMI. One group maintained higher physical activity throughout the winter, while the other remained sedentary. The study aimed to assess changes in body structure (body weight, fat mass, BMI) and motor skills (strength, endurance, flexibility) after the winter period.
The average age of participants was around 45 years. Those in the active group exercised outdoors 3-5 days a week for 1-1.5 hours each time. All parameters were measured at the beginning and end of the experiment.
Results were unequivocal. “Winter physical activity led to a decrease in body weight, BMI, and waist and hip circumferences. Active men experienced a significant reduction in fat tissue levels and an increase in skeletal muscle mass. Conversely, inactive individuals showed an increase in fat tissue levels and its distribution indicators,” explains Dr. Fugiel.
Moreover, those consistently active during winter improved their motor skills across all aspects measured, with the most significant progress observed in endurance, upper and lower body strength, and flexibility.
On the contrary, men with low activity levels exhibited a decrease in motor skills, notably in dynamic lower limb strength and endurance, emphasizing the importance of year-round physical activity.
Dr. Fugiel stresses that the benefits of winter activity are crucial for overall life quality, particularly in societies facing rising obesity rates. Improving muscle strength and overall body efficiency through physical activity helps prevent various health issues and contributes to a healthier lifestyle.
Despite these advantages, Poland lags in physical activity levels in Europe. “Physical activity levels in the adult population in Poland are low, making us one of the least active societies in Europe,” notes Dr. Fugiel. Efforts are needed to raise awareness and promote physical activity, especially during the winter season, encouraging people of all ages to embrace the benefits of outdoor exercise.