Fitness / Outdoor Running

How to Layer Your Clothes for Cold Weather Workouts

Chilly temperatures have you missing your outdoor exercise? Stay safe and warm with these layering tips.

When cold weather hits, it may seem like the right time to move your workouts indoors—but a low number on the thermostat doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t or shouldn’t exercise outdoors. You simply need to choose the right layers of clothing that protect your skin from wind and cold, keep your muscles warm, and help regulate your body temperature. Maintain your workout routine through the winter with our guide to layering up so you can stay warm and safe on your next outdoor run. Read on to learn how to layer your workout clothes for cold weather.

Base Layer: Tight-fitting

Start with a base layer of tight-fitting compression material in order to keep moisture and sweat away from your skin. Try running tights and a long-sleeve tech shirt. Your goal here is to stay comfortable and dry.

Obviously winter weather varies depending on where you live. So, depending on your location, look for lightweight, medium-weight, and heavyweight shirts. Something lighter weight will wick perspiration away from your body, and something heavier will add more insulation. It really depends on the temperature outside and your level of activity. Aim for silk, polyester-blend, or synthetic fabrics instead of cotton. The latter actually absorbs sweat and will ultimately make you feel colder.

Middle Layer: Extra Warmth

It’s all about insulation when it comes to your next layer. Look for something a little looser than your base layer that offers full range of motion, but still that carries moisture away from your body. Spandex or fleece are great, inexpensive options.Try a sleeveless vest or pullover for customizable bundling. “I like a puff vest, because I can be more mobile and let my arms be free, but it keeps my body warm in my core,” says Aaptiv trainer Jessica Muenster.

Outer Layer: Protection

Your final layer should repel water, block wind, and hold in heat. A windproof running jacket or loose-fitting running pants (to be worn over tights) will work great. You’ll want to specifically look for wind-blocking fabrics that breathe, like a polyester blend, and try to avoid rubber or plastic materials that allow moisture to build. The key here is to choose a layer you can easily take on and off depending on your temperature.

The Rest: Head, Hands, Ears, and Toes

Finally, don’t forget about your extremities. It actually may be more important to protect these parts than your main body, says Muenster. “When I run, I heat up, but typically blood doesn’t flow as much to my toes, hands, ears, and nose. So, gloves and hats are essential for winter.”

Be sure to choose warm, non-bulky socks and a water-resistant running shoe with lots of traction to avoid slipping. Add thin gloves or mittens to keep hands toasty. You can always take them off and slip them into your waistband if you get too hot. A headband or hat with a visor will protect your head and ears from the cold and wind, as well.

Other Tips

Fitness Outdoor Running

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