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What to Wear for a Winter Workout
Whether you're running or just going for a walk, dressing for the cold is crucial to maintaining your exercise regime throughout the winter. It's no longer as easy as throwing on cotton sweats and slogging through the cold. Now polypropylene, new polyester blends, and a host of high tech fabrics -- plus a few tricks on how to dress -- keep you warm and comfortable outdoors, even when the thermometer drops.
The proper way to dress for cold weather workouts is in light layers. Exercising can make it feel 30 degrees warmer than it is outside. Overdressing, or wearing one heavy outer garment, causes too much sweating. This leads to dampness, chills, muscle tightness and discomfort. By wearing several layers you have the option of removing one before you get too warm. If it turns chilly later, you can put that layer back on.
The Base Layer
Staying dry is essential to staying comfortable during a winter workout. When selecting the layer that goes against your skin look for materials that ‘wick’ sweat away from the body. Check the labels for fabrics made from wool blends, silk or synthetics such as polypropylene. Avoid cotton because it absorbs and holds sweat against the skin, making you colder. Polyester-blend tights keep your legs warm and allow freedom of movement. Looser fitting workout pants are also available for anyone too bashful to wear form-fitting tights.
Just like insulation in a house, the outer layer keeps cold out and warmth in. Fleece is the perfect insulation layer. Light, breathable and inexpensive, fleece pullovers, jackets and vests can be made from recycled plastic so they're also environmentally friendly.
If it's raining or particularly windy, add a protective outer layer, such as a jacket or pullover. Look for fabrics that breathe, such as a polyester blend. Avoid materials made from rubber or plastic. They trap heat and prevent evaporation, allowing sweat to build up and cold to creep in.