Running is a good workout choice if you're trying to lose weight -- and this is true regardless of the season. Winter running is not only possible but perfectly safe, as long as you're taking some precautions. Running on ice and snow takes some practice, though, so make sure you start off easy so you can get used to the terrain. In general, heat-producing running is a great activity in the chill of winter.
Set up a running schedule based on how much weight you want to lose. To shed 1 pound, you need to burn 3,500 calories. How many calories you burn running for an hour depends on your speed and weight. If your winter is snowy and icy, chances are you'll end up running at a rather low speed, so you won't burn as many calories. For example, a 155-pound person running at 5 miles per hour will burn 563 calories, but a 205-pound person running at the same speed will burn 745 calories. But keep in mind, your body must burn a few more calories just to keep you warm when you run outside in cold weather.
Dress properly if you're planning on running outdoors. Layers are best, so you can take something off when your body starts to warm up. Make sure the layers are thing you can easily carry when you take them off. For example, put on a sweater you can then tie around your waist, rather than a thick vest that you would have to carry with your hands. The top layer should be a windproof or waterproof jacket, depending on the weather.
Warm up longer than you would in summer. Cold muscles are more prone to injury, so walk for at least five to 10 minutes before you run. According to the National Health Service, it's best not to stop and stretch after your warm up -- or you risk your muscles cooling down too much because of the low temperature.
Have a backup plan for when the weather doesn't cooperate. When things get too cold or too icy, it makes sense to run indoors. Check with local gyms to see what a day pass will cost you. Or see if the local school or community center has an indoor running track you can use in an emergency.
Bring water. Since you won't sweat as much when running in winter, it's easy to forget the water bottle at home. However, lack of hydration will impact your energy levels and might result in a shortened run. Force yourself to drink even if you're not thirsty, so you don't get dehydrated.
- If you're running in the dark, wear something reflective on top of your winter clothes. And whatever you do, don't wear white if you live in a snowy area. You'll make it harder for cars to see you.
- Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images