How to Dress for Winter Exercise

Person working out

There’s no debating the benefits of exercise. Whether you’re greeted by summer’s heat or winter’s chill, getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day is recommended by the CDC, the Surgeon General and the American College of Sports Medicine

The consensus from this triple threat sends a clear message—no matter the season, it’s important to get up and get moving.  As the temperatures drop, you might find yourself spending more time in a brick-and-mortar gym or stuck in a cycle of at-home workouts. But cold weather shouldn’t leave you feeling trapped. 

Don’t let winter freeze your outdoor workouts. Check out these tips for dressing for cold-weather exercise.

What You Need to Know

Before your take on the cold, it’s important to cover the basics. Your first step should be to check the forecast and make a plan. 

Snow and frost aren’t the only things you need to be aware of—wind chill is key. A seemingly harmless gust of wind can be enough to penetrate your clothing and remove the insulating layer of warm air that surrounds your body. 

When do wind chill extremes make exercising outdoors unsafe regardless of how many layers you’re under? While risk of frostbite is less than 5 percent when the air temperature is above 5 degrees Fahrenheit, it increases quickly as wind chill falls. It only takes up to 30 minutes to be exposed to frost bite if wind chill drops below -18 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperatures are less than zero degrees Fahrenheit, consider an indoor workout instead. 

Back to Basics: Dressing for the Cold

Once you’ve made sure the wind chill isn’t too low, it’s time to focus on dressing smart. When it comes to outdoor winter exercise, bundling to the max is a mistake. Even in the cold, outdoor exercise will cause to sweat. Dress in a way that allows you to start off warm and remove articles of clothing as needed. These steps below will help.

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About the Author

Stephanie Smith

Stephanie Smith is a New York native who caught the fitness bug while earning a master's in journalism at the University of Missouri. A life-long victim of the YMCA family package, she didn't learn to really love fitness until she entered the renowned Mizzou rec room. Her one true love: glow in the dark cycling.
 
After maxing out her need for (stationary) speed, Stephanie decided to hit the pavement and actually try and go somewhere by joining her first half-marathon training group. She ultimately decided to combine her love of journalism, fitness and a conversational tone in writing. You can see her work here

Stephanie Smith is a New York native who caught the fitness bug while earning a master's in journalism at the University of Missouri. A life-long victim of the YMCA family package, she didn't learn to really love fitness until she entered the renowned Mizzou rec room. Her one true love: glow in the dark cycling.
 
After maxing out her need for (stationary) speed, Stephanie decided to hit the pavement and actually try and go somewhere by joining her first half-marathon training group. She ultimately decided to combine her love of journalism, fitness and a conversational tone in writing. You can see her work here

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