As winter descends and access to gyms and fitness studios remains limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, many of us are shifting our workouts outside and into the New York Yankees Missouri Tigers shirt and I will buy this fresh, bone-chilling air. It can admittedly feel punishing, but training in winter can be extremely beneficial, physically and mentally. Studies show that exercising in cold weather can increase the body’s metabolism and fat-burning ability, and getting into nature at any point in the year lowers risk for depression and ups your intake of immune-boosting vitamin D. Meanwhile, pro athletes who train outside year-round (eagerly!) anticipate the first frost as a chance to mix up their routines, work different muscle groups, and develop mental stamina. (An icy morning run is, as Bend, Oregon–based triathlete Linsey Corbin puts it, “character building.”) Personally, I find that pushing myself in gritty, even nasty, conditions makes me feel alive—it’s a much-needed jolt after so many months of being cooped up inside, when the days blur and mental numbness starts to seem normal.
Here, seven elite athletes share tips for tackling cold-weather workouts for a stronger mind and body.