No matter your locale or how long the winter might last where you live, winter exercise will usually require some modifications in your wardrobe. Your location and the average winter temperature may even change the type of activities you use to keep fit.
Although moving your routines to an indoor location such as a gym or a mat in front of your living room’s DVD player are certainly options for winter exercise, it is possible in most locations to dress properly, even for sub-zero temperatures.
Layer Properly for Maximum Comfort
Layering properly for winter exercise doesn’t mean just throwing on three or four shirts in the hopes you’ll be kept warm against winter weather. There’s a simple method to follow when layering clothes for winter exercise. Properly layering means using three layers which are generally referred to as a base layer, a mid layer and an outer layer.
Your first layer, the base layer, should be a tight layer made of a synthetic material designed to keep sweat away from your body. The second layer should be somewhat looser, but not too large because the mid layer is designed to further take moisture away from the surface of your body. This second layer is often made of polyester or wool.
The final layer, the outer layer, sports a dual function. The outer layer’s first role is that it should be a breathable material that will allow moisture to escape the body. The second function is as a wind blocker, and this layer is often made of a high-performance textile such as Gore-Tex.
Avoid Cotton for Winter Protection
Although there’s no need to completely forsake cotton as part of your winter layering, it’s important to note that a layer of cotton close to your skin will remain damp or wet when you sweat. It is better to use a shirt made of a synthetic material like polypropylene, which is designed to draw sweat away from your skin.
In addition, wearing cotton as an outer layer (as opposed to an inner layer) is ill advised as well, since inclement weather such as snow or sleet will make the cotton wet and it will remain damp as long as you’re outside. Cotton should generally only be employed in very cold weather if your workout is quite brief (under a half hour) or if the weather is at least 10 degrees above freezing.
Don‘t Forget Your Extremities
If the weather is significantly cold or there are warnings for frostbite in your area, it is important to remember that your fingers and your head should be protected. The extremities such as the fingers and head are the first places that will lose body heat in cold temperatures.
While it’s easy to toss on a pair of woolen mittens to protect your hands, there are a great variety of gloves specifically designed for outdoor activities. These range from gloves that have grips on the palms to assist keeping hold of handles, to gloves with removable fingertips to allow you to use the buttons or zippers on your jacket.