Rain Fitness: Your Guide to Working Out in the Rain

Fact checked by Olga Sadouskaya, MD
Clinical Pharmacologist, Chief Medical Officer

There are lots of common places to exercise: at the gym, in a park, or at home. Exercising in the rain is one that may seem a little less common.

If you know someone who likes working out in the rain, you may wonder if there are any benefits or risks associated with this fitness practice. If you’re curious about trying it yourself, we have some tips to make sure you stay safe when you work out in the rain.

Keep reading to learn more.

Benefits of exercising in the rain

There are some benefits to running in the rain. Some scientific studies have compared working out in cold rain to working out with no rain, finding that our bodies work harder and burn more calories when we work out in the rain.

Your athletic performance may be a little worse when you exercise in the rain, but people tend to burn more fat when running in the rain. As a result, even a lighter workout could lead to better results.

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Another important benefit of running in the rain is that your body will get a new challenge and learn to adapt to new conditions. It can be easy to become stuck in a rut if you always perform the same workouts. But exercising in the rain can allow you to become faster, stronger, and more adaptable, even if you’re running along your usual route.

Your immune system could also benefit from a workout in the rain. Research has shown that exercising in cold weather can significantly boost your immune system, which can help you fight off infections such as the common cold and flu.

Two women exercising in the rain

Does exercising in the rain promote weight loss?

According to research, exercising in the rain burns more calories and fat, meaning it could be an effective way to lose weight. Running in the rain also tends to be somewhat chilly, and cold conditions can increase the calories that you burn.

It can also be harder to run in the rain, so you may be activating more muscles than usual. This is another way exercising in the rain can promote weight loss.

To lose weight, it’s also important to follow a healthy diet.

If you’re unsure about what to eat to lose weight in a healthy way, consider seeking help from a registered dietitian to learn more about your nutritional needs.

Potential risks of rain fitness sessions

Is there any chance that running in the rain is bad for you?

In most cases, exercising in the rain is perfectly safe, as long as you follow some simple steps. You probably won’t have anything to worry about, especially if you’re only running in light to moderate rain. However, there are some circumstances in which your workout in the rain may not be as safe. People with cardiovascular or lung disease, asthma, or compromised immune systems should be careful when choosing workouts and may be better served by indoor workouts. Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting a new workout plan if you have any of these conditions.

  • Check the weather forecast: A rain workout in light or moderate rain is probably fine, but be sure to avoid lightning, heavy rain, and thunderstorms. Being outdoors during severe weather can be risky. If the weather forecast predicts dangerous weather, move your workout indoors.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures: Skip your rain fitness routine if the forecast predicts extremely high or low temperatures that could put your health at risk. Keep in mind that very cold and hot temperatures both come with risks, such as hypothermia, frostbite, sunburn, and heatstroke. If the temperature is expected to drop too low or climb too high, it’s probably a good idea to skip your workout in the rain for the day.

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Is it better to run or walk in the rain?

Deciding if it’s better to run or walk in the rain will depend on the amount of rainfall, the conditions of the terrain where you’re running, and your own comfort and fitness level. But don’t worry — when it comes to walking vs. running in the rain, know that even a simple walk in the rain is better than no exercise at all.

Running will burn more calories than walking, but you shouldn’t focus on running as fast as possible in the rain.

If you feel comfortable, you can opt for a light jog in the rain as long as the ground feels firm under your feet. Rather than trying to run faster, try to lengthen your walk or jog to burn more calories and get your heart rate up.

If you’re ever running in the rain and find that the rainfall is too heavy or the path has become too slippery, slow your pace and walk the rest of the way. Take shorter steps and focus on stepping firmly on the ground to avoid falling or stumbling.

Precautions to take before working out in the rain

If you’re wondering whether it’s okay to run in the rain, know that it’s usually perfectly safe. However, there are some extra steps to take to make sure you’re safe if you like walking in the rain or snow.

A close-up of feet of a person walking in the rain
  • Wear the right clothes: Visibility is usually impaired during rainfall. It’s a good idea to wear bright colors instead of muted, neutral colors so that passersby and cars can spot you more easily.
  • Know your path: It’s usually harder to see clearly in the rain. This makes it easier to get lost when you’re working out in the rain. To prevent this, try running a path that you’re already familiar with to reduce the risk of getting lost while it’s raining.
  • Make sure you have appropriate footwear: Rain can make roads, terrain, and sidewalks more slippery than usual and increase your risk of falling. Wear running shoes with good traction and grip.
  • Avoid slippery spots: In some cases, rain can quickly flood certain areas. These spots can be particularly dangerous, so be sure to avoid them if you’re running in the rain. Also avoid stepping directly in puddles, since they can be deceptively deep and cause injuries.
  • Stay hydrated: It’s easy to forget about drinking water while running in the rain, but staying hydrated is always important. Even if you’re soaking wet, you still need to remember to drink enough fluids.
  • Don’t wear headphones: Many of us like to listen to music while we run, since this practice can increase concentration. But when it’s raining, you want to ensure that you can fully focus on the road ahead of you.

Indoor activities to try if you don’t want to exercise in the rain

It may not always be possible to go running or walking in the rain and snow. Depending on the weather forecast and your own preferences, sometimes it’s better to stick to an indoor workout routine. Thankfully, there are plenty of exercises to try indoors.

  • Treadmill: This is a great option if you want to run a few miles while staying indoors. Most treadmills have different settings to allow you to change the inclination or speed. This way, you can adapt the difficulty of your workout and even mimic outdoor conditions.
  • Yoga: Yoga may seem like a low-energy workout, but it’s a great way to tone your muscles and improve your flexibility and focus. You can attend an in-person class at a yoga studio or use your phone to stream a video class. Another benefit of yoga is that you only need a mat for most of the poses, which makes it a great at-home exercise.
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT): HIIT has become increasingly popular, and it can help you achieve amazing results. This is another great option for home workouts, since you can find many apps and videos with different HIIT routines.
  • Weight lifting: Lifting weights is an effective way to tone your muscles, which can improve your endurance and increase your metabolism. You can go to the gym when it’s raining or lift weights at home. If you don’t have weights at home, you can use household items such as canned food, water bottles, and other heavy items.
  • Jumping rope: If you want to do some cardio but don’t have access to a treadmill, you can also try jumping rope. This exercise may seem simple, but it’s a good option for a cardio workout that doesn’t require special equipment other than the jump rope. Jumping rope can also help improve your coordination and focus.

Overall, working out in the rain can provide many benefits with few risks, as long as you take the necessary steps to stay safe. Exercising in the rain can help you lose weight, adapt to new conditions, and even boost your immune function. However, there are also many different types of exercise that you can perform indoors if you don’t want to get wet or the conditions are risky. Remember, whether it’s outdoors or indoors, regular exercise is key for a healthy and happy life.

November 2, 2022