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Running is one of my favourite exercises, and one of the reasons is, it makes me feel free and lowers my stress level. When I run I get the same feeling as when I’m riding a bike, like I’m a kid again and I’m free as a bird. Of all the exercises I do, I also find running the best way to keep my legs toned and in shape.

If you’re an outdoor runner like me, then you have to make some changes to your routines with the changes in the weather. Indoor running is usually on a treadmill and is great if you have any joint issues or have to take extra care with your knees. You can also check your local recreation centres or gyms because some of them have indoor tracks.

Benefits of running

blender.jpgWhere to start with the benefits of running. Top of the list has to be all of the health benefits, such as preventing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and so much more. It doesn’t even have to be hour long runs each day either. I find 25-30 minutes just three times a week helps me so much. If you’re wanting to make a fitness plan specific to your own health needs, I suggest asking your family doctor and following up with a personal trainer if you don’t know where to start.

Of course you will also be burning calories, and if you pair that with a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, proteins and healthy carbohydrates you will be on track to maintaining a healthy body. Smoothies and Juicing are great ways to add more fresh fruit and vegetables to your diet.

Last but not least I have to mention my main reason for exercising which is to help maintain my stress levels. You have probably heard the term runner’s high, and I’m here to tell you it’s real. Depending on my mood or how tired I am, the first five minutes of my runs can be me forcing one leg in front of the other, but then I move past that feeling and I feel like I could run forever. This is the high feeling. Often times that passes too, and I’m back to pushing through the pain to finish my run but I always feel amazing when I’m done and that’s what gets me out running again.

Running safe in winter

Running in winter is a little different than any other time of year, especially if you are a late in the day runner. I hate that it gets dark so early, and it can go from light out to pitch black very quickly. There is some great reflective running gear that should be a must when running in the dark, such as jackets, hats and I’ve even seen a blinking head lamp. It’s also a good idea to run against the traffic so that you can see what or who is headed your way. I also think if you’re planning a long run you should buddy up with a friend or at the very least let someone know your route and take your cell phone with you. Also if it’s really cold, be sure to keep an eye out for frostbite on your toes, fingers, ears and nose. It’s normal for them to feel a little numb at the start but they should warm up during your run.

With winter running you also have to think about what shoes you’re going to wear since the terrain will be much colder and possibly icy. Your mesh style running shoes will definitely not keep your feet warm in the colder weather, and don’t forget about a hat for your head and some mittens to keep your hands warm. I also find it really hard on my lungs to run in the cold air. If you find the same problem bothers you, you can wrap a scarf around your mouth or wear a balaclava. Just be sure not to dress all in black so you don’t look like a criminal running from a crime scene.

All of your running clothing should be moisture wicking during your runs any time of year, but especially during winter because your sweat won’t dry when it’s freezing out. Also be sure to get out of your wet clothes as soon as possible after your runs.

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Winter running accessories

One of my most used running accessories are running socks such as these Thirty48 Ru Running Series Socks with CoolMax. If you’ve ran with both regular socks and running socks you know what a difference they make. They have the extra cushioning where you need them and great arch support as well as being breathable. Another must is a running jacket. They are light to wear and you can layer underneath your preference, either a tank, t-shirt or long sleeve. They are also breathable which help you regulate your heat loss.

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If you like to track your runs there are some really cool apps and watches available. It might be interesting to see the difference in your runs throughout the seasons of the year. This TomTom Runner Cardio GPS Watch with Heart Rate Monitor is full of great options. You can track your distances ran and monitor your heart rate to make sure you’re meeting your fitness goals. It’s also water resistant in case you like to run in a downpour.

Why I love it

When I am feeling stressed I can picture running in my mind and instantly feel a little better. I like to think that my stress is leaving me every time I exhale. It’s also an easy exercise that I can do anywhere. I can just walk right out my front door if I want, but I do prefer to run on my local trails. If you prefer you can run on a treadmill at your local gym, or even in the comfort of your own home if you own one, and even if you’re on vacation there’s sure to be a route that works for your fitness needs.

Running is another exercise that’s great for the whole family. You can make it more enjoyable by racing each other or have your kids ride their bikes along next to you.

I’d love to hear any of your own personal running tips for winter in the comments below.

Title image @ huffingtonpost.ca