With winter around the corner, the temperatures are starting to cool down. Fortunately, with proper planning and equipment, that doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors to exercise until spring. One of the most important factors in exercising in the cold is layering your clothes properly. Below are a few tips to help you layer properly and keep you warm and dry in the elements this winter.
- Your initial layer of clothing should be a tight fitting “dri-fit” type of material that will help wick away moisture created by sweating. A typical cotton t-shirt is not a good idea, as cotton holds onto moisture once you begin to perspire. A “dri-fit” material, typically a microfiber-polyester fabric, will instead help the moisture evaporate and keep you drier. This is important as a build-up of moisture sitting next to the skin will dramatically cool the skin and will make you feel much colder.
- The second layer of clothing should be an insulating layer. Appropriate fabrics include polar fleece, wool, or down. Be cautious with down that it does not get wet, as it loses much of its insulating effect when wet and takes a long time to dry.
- The final layer should provide a wind-blocking effect. While this layer will be quite thin, it is the most important. The proper “wind-breaker” can add 25 degrees F of warmth in calm conditions and 50 degrees F in windy conditions. Also consider whether or not this layer needs to be waterproof, depending on the forecast or your activity.
Also remember to keep your head, neck and extremities properly protected as well. A large amount of heat is lost through the head and neck, so keeping these areas covered will help retain large amounts of heat. The fingers and toes are often the first areas to feel the cold, and this is due to blood decreasing in these areas as a result of the cold. The body decreases the circulation to these areas to help prevent heat loss and control internal temperature.
Finally, the best way to keep warm is to keep moving. The body produces much more heat as a waste product of energy production while exercising compared to not, so keep the body in motion until it’s time to take off all the layers and put your feet up with a toasty-warm hot chocolate by the fireplace.