Exercise offers a brainpower boost, improving your focus for several hours after a workout. And hitting the jogging trail over the gym could offer the biggest benefit. According to research published in the online journal PLoS One, study participants who immersed themselves in a natural setting for four days showed a 50% improvement in focus and problem-solving skills.
We doubt you can dedicate a full four days to a snowy camping trip the next time you’re feeling a little fuzzy, but you can still benefit from taking your workout outside—even when it’s freezing cold. Just be sure to dress in layers, wear gloves, and avoid icy areas. Here’s a quick outdoor workout to get blood flowing to your brain.
1. Run: Warm up with two minutes of jogging on flat pavement. Then hit the powder—a run in the snow will force you to pick up your legs higher, burning more calories and making your thighs work harder. Because it’s harder to run in snow, scale back your miles. For example, if you usually do five miles in warm weather, start with two miles in wintery conditions.
2. Incline Pushups: Avoid the icy-wet snow on the ground by finding a low bench for a set of incline pushups. Though these are usually easier than regular pushups, the cold air will add an extra challenge. Try for 15 reps, and increase by two with each workout.
3. Jump Squats: Do a regular squat, then jump as powerfully as you can, reaching up for the sky. Land in your beginning squat position. Repeat for 20 reps.
4. Snow Shuffle Suicides: Before you shovel the walk, stand in the snow with knees bent slightly. Shuffle to the right 10 paces, then shuffle back. Repeat for four reps. The snow will add resistance.
5. Cool Down Inside: The trick to a winter workout is to keep moving. “Cool” down inside so your sweat doesn’t freeze, and keep moving for at least five minutes as you take off your layers. Do not jump in the shower right away. Let your body slowly readjust to indoor temperatures.