How To Dress for Winter Workouts

Even though winter doesn’t officially start until December 21st, the winter weather seems to have come early this year.  While you know that you can only reap the benefits of exercise if you are consistent and make it part of a year-round routine, the shorter days and cold weather can make it awfully tempting to stay curled up on your couch with a warm blanket.  While this may be a more challenging time of year, proper clothes can make winter workouts both comfortable and fun! 

The key to keeping your body temperature stable in cold weather is to Layer, Layer, Layer!!  This allows you to add or remove clothes as needed so you don’t get overheated or to cold.  There are three layers of clothes that you will want to wear in cold environments:

  1. The first layer is for wicking away sweat from the skin (and yes, you do sweat in cold weather too!!).  This layer should fit snugly against your skin, but should not be too tight.  You will want to stay away from cotton because it holds moisture which will make you feel colder.  Instead look for fabrics such as Polar tech, Gortex, holofiber and polypropylene.  You can also look for the words breathable, dri-fit and cool max.
  1. The second layer helps to insulate.  This layer should be loose enough that there is room to trap air in between layers, but not so big and bulky that it makes it hard to move.  Polar fleece and wool are great materials for insulating.
  1. The third layer is for protection against the elements like wind, rain and snow.  It should be waterproof and breathable to allow sweat to evaporate.  Fabrics that are treated with a coating or laminate are often waterproof.

In addition to layering clothes, also think about covering your extremities.  You lose 60% of your body heat through your head, so don’t forget the hat or headband.  Again polar fleece and wool are the best choices, but look for ones with liners that don’t itch.  Gloves/mittens should also be made of a breathable material that is water proof, and there should be enough space for some air.  Mittens are warmer, but you will have to think about if they allow for the movement needed for your activity.  Ditch the cotton socks if your toes get cold.  Instead try polyester, silk, wool or nylon and make sure that the socks are not so tight that they cut off circulation.

In addition to staying warm, it is important to stay safe.  Buy bright colored clothes and reflective gear when exercising in the dark.  A workout buddy not only makes exercise safer, but he/she can also make exercise more fun and increase accountability.  This winter, use these tips to stay warm, have fun and keep moving!!