First, I will address the obvious. Cold is subjective to the individual.
I, personally, think anything above 32 degrees is not cold but I know some clients who think anything below 70 degrees is an Arctic Blast straight from the Ice Age.
Having said that, I will define cold as anything under 50 degrees.
The benefits of exercising in the cold are limited. If you are a runner than colder temps are ideal. They help prevent your body from overheating and after it is nicer to add and peal layers as needed than to attempt to run over 90 degrees in the middle of the day. Obviously, doing any activity is better than just doing nothing regarding keeping your metabolic rate up and muscles from going into atrophy.
There are a number of studies that show people tend to gain more in the winter due to lack of activity because of the weather. As you know, this can add to more serious health issues if someone continues down that path. Also, Vitamin D is also known as the "Sun Vitamin" because the Sun does provide Vitamin D. And that is really it.
Exercising in the cold can be a detriment for a number of people. Older clients especially tend to have stiff and achy joints so warming up or exercising outside in the cold makes it that more difficult to warm up to prevent injury. It is more dangerous to run in extreme cold or do sprints on a slippery surface where injuries can happen. When you sweat after warming up, your sweat will make your clothes wetter and could cause you to get sick and the propensity to get a cold goes way up if you are constantly outside exercising. You will need to be moving consistently to prevent stiffness and muscles from cramping or tightening up.
Lastly, it is a lot more work to put on layers of clothes just to keep active. My best advice is to find a facility where the temp is regulated and a highly trained fitness professional who can guide you through the process. But remember, stay active in the winter because as the saying goes, "summer bodies are made in the winter."
Kenny McClendon is an Exercise Physiologist, Personal Trainer with over 10 + years of experience and the Owner of Fit Therapy of Texas! He recommends that you remain active throughout the year and would like the opportunity to help you achieve your fitness goals with proper exercise, nutrition and stress management. Reach out to him directly at kenny@fittherapyoftexas to schedule a free consult.