Is it possible that exercising in the cold may actually help you burn more energy and lose weight? Could Winter be good for something after all? It's a popular belief that fat burning is increased when exercising in the cold but is this just another misleading weight loss myth...let's take a quick look.
The energy expenditure, or fat burning potential, (depending on how you want to look at it) of exercising in the cold is not significantly different enough from exercising in normal or warm temperatures to matter. Not only are the energy requirements of both warming and cooling much the same, but after the body is warmed up from moving around/exercising (which doesn't take long) there is no ongoing, additional energy demand from being in the cold since exercise continues to keep the body warm anyway.
The only exception when being in the cold can actually result in a significant increase in energy expenditures is when it's cold enough to cause you to shiver - but; 1) this doesn't typically happen when you exercise because your body warms up quickly from moving & 2) it's not healthy to expose yourself to temperatures cold enough to cause you to shiver for a prolonged period of time. So, in other words, don't try it.
Exercising in any significant temperature either extremely cold or hot will reduce training intensity, duration and enjoyment (for those of us who like to exercise normally) which in turn will result in less energy expended and less fat burned, as well as reduced fitness and/or strength benefits from your workout.. The best results are achieved by exercising in comfortable temperatures and if this is not possible make yourself comfortable by either adding or removing layers of clothing in response to how you feel during exercise.
If you were hoping for an excuse to head out in the cold with your shirt off next workout I'm sorry to disappoint you, but for the rest of us it's nice to know that we don't have to freeze to burn fat.