The Benefits of Working Out in the Rain

Rain? In the Spring? Groundbreaking.

There is nothing better than getting outside for workout after a long winter of being in the gym or endless months of piling on endless layers just to leave the house. But if you’ve found yourself looking out the window thinking the rain ruined your run (while still being happy it isn’t -12 degrees), think again! There are a lot of reasons to face the elements and still take your workout outdoors, and also lots of ways to properly prepare.

running in the rain

Science says you’ll work harder and burn more calories, making for a very efficient workout.

This study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine had seven men monitored as they ran on treadmills in a climatic chamber. They observed the men in cold, rainy conditions and in non-rainy conditions, and to not much surprise they exerted more energy during the rainy conditions. By using extra energy, a run in the rain burns more fat than a jog in perfect temps.

It makes you more adaptable and quick on your feet.

If you run the same routes around your neighborhood most days your body adjusts to the routine. By running in new conditions – whether that be a new path or wet, slippery conditions – your body has to conquer a new demand from the workout; just like when you learn a new dance routine or hit a new speed on the treadmill.

If you’re in a city like Chicago where there aren’t a lot of trail runs available, running in rainy conditions could provide a similar sense of variety and excitement. Just make sure to take it slow and be careful, especially as your muscles also need to get used to the new conditions!

You’ll relieve stress.

There is a reason why spas play the sound of rain in the background of a massage; it is a naturally soothing background noise. In addition to the relaxing effect of a light rainfall, usually there won’t be as many people out and about so you’ll feel a sense of solitude that can act as a form of meditation. The rain can also distract you from what may be bothering you that day, or even the intensity of your workout.

Here’s how to prepare for a run in the rain.

Despite all of the benefits that can come from running in the rain, the most important things to remember are safety and being prepared. If there are thunderstorms and the weatherperson is telling you to stay indoors, do so. On the other hand, if it is a light spring shower, consider following these tips:

Accept the fact that you’re going to get wet and wear the right gear.

Maybe wear your old pair of running shoes if you’re really in love with the brand new white ones you just bought. Never wear cotton — I repeat, I never wear cotton! It will soak up all the water and have you feeling like a wet dog. Wear light breathable technical fabric, or even better go for a Smartwool base layer that will keep you warm even when you’re wet. Wool socks are the ultimate best too!

Wear a hat

I’ve heard that wearing a hat is a near necessity for those with contact lenses when they’re running in the rain, but even without that factor it makes a huge difference in keeping the water out of your face. Your hair won’t stay dry, but at least you’ll be able to see.

Avoid chafing

Chafing is caused from friction of two parts of your body or when they rub against clothing, and it is way more common than you’d think. Consider adding vaseline or an anti-chafing stick to common areas like around your armpits and your bra area, or really anywhere your clothes will rub. Your badass post-rain-run self will thank you!

Bring an ID, credit card and insurance card

These should be staples on any outdoor adventure, but they are especially important to remember to bring when you are running in unfamiliar conditions. If you have a waterproof fanny pack it would also be a good idea to bring your phone in case you need to call an Uber / Lyft if the weather starts taking a turn for the worse. It is never a bad thing to be over-prepared.

 

Don’t let the weather scare you away from a stress-relieving and powerful workout. Take on the elements and run in the rain!

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About Catherine Toupin

Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, Catherine is a proud graduate of two great Midwestern schools: the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Notre Dame. After receiving a degree in English and Communication, Catherine chose to take a risk and teach teenagers in Florabama for two years. Living in a location with warm weather year-round rekindled Catherine’s love of long outdoor runs (and of relaxing on a beach). Catherine has since taken a Meeting Planning job in Chicago, and though the views are slightly different, she still enjoys runs along the lake shore path and being outdoors as much as possible.