Dressing for Cold Weather Exercise

As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach us, so does colder weather. Put away the short sleeves and shorts and bring out the long sleeves and jackets! Although the changing season makes us want to hibernate inside, lounge on the couch, and watch Netflix or Disney +, we still need to make it a priority to be active! Regular physical activity has shown to boost your immunity, making you less likely to get a cold or flu, which is significant during the cold months! When dressing for cold weather, there are a few things you need to know, especially when exercising outdoors. Whether you are getting your exercise in by raking leaves, shoveling snow, or going on walk or run outdoors, keeping warm should be your top priority! Layers. Layers. Layers.

Layering Up

First, you want to make sure your base layer is a light weight, moisture-wicking material. AVOID COTTON! You don’t want to end up freezing because your cotton shirt absorbed the sweat when you went on your trail run. Synthetic materials like polypropylene, polyester, nylon, and silk are good for keeping you DRY and WARM.

When deciding your mid-layer, you should consider what clothing provides insulation and ventilation. Clothing with ventilation (mesh, zippers, etc.) will help regulate your body temperature and let the base layer breathe, preventing moisture from being trapped in. Materials like fleece, polyester, or wool will help insulate and ventilate to keep you warm.

Your outer later should be a waterproof or wind breaking material, to protect you from the elements. Having pit zippers or ankle zippers are a good idea for ventilation for this layer as well.

You also want to remember to protect your feet, hands, head, and ears. These areas are typically the first to get frostbite if not protected. Wear a beanie or ear warmers to protect your head and ears from the cold and the wind. Gloves and socks are just as important! No one likes not being able to wiggle their fingers or toes, so be prepared!

Every person is different, so you should experiment with what combination of materials work for you. Just remember that when exercising in cold weather, if you have too many layers on, you will probably sweat right through them, so make sure to shed a layer or two before performing the exercise. Your body generates more heat than you think! You can always add the layers back on when needed.

More Tips

  • Check the weather forecast! The temperature can “feel” colder if there is wind chill or moisture.
  • Just because it is cold doesn’t mean you can’t get sunburned, so make sure to wear sunscreen if you plan to be in the snow or in direct light.
  • Wear reflective gear if you are planning on exercising when it is dark. This might mean a reflective jacket or some lights if you are biking.
  • Stay hydrated! Just because you are not constantly sweating like you would be in the summer, doesn’t mean you won’t get dehydrated in the cold months! Dehydration typically goes unnoticed in the winter, but staying hydrated helps boost your immune system, stay warm, and maintain your body weight.

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