A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Layer up when working out in the cold

Girl exercising outdoorsCold weather doesn’t have to put a freeze on your outdoor exercise program. If you take precautions, you can still work out in chilly weather.

But how do you stay warm and dry when working out in cold weather or competing? Layer up.

Layering means you wear a combination of clothes (in layers) to help regulate your body temperature and keep you warm and dry. If you get too warm, you can strip off a layer.

The American College of Sports Medicine has recommended three layers of clothing for working out in the cold.

Base layer

Your base layer clothing should be composed of fabrics that wick moisture and perspiration away from the body. Some examples are clothing made of polypropylene, silk, polyester, thermax and wool. Try to avoid cotton garments because cotton absorbs moisture and then becomes heavy and uncomfortable.

Mid layer

Your mid layer provides insulation and aids in moisture control. Clothing made of fabrics such as down, polyester, fleece, wool and newer synthetic or natural blends are good choices for mid layering.

Outer layer

Your outer layer should offer protection against wind, water, abrasions and tears. It also should allow moisture to escape.

Layer up from head to toe

Consider what you’re wearing on your feet, head and hands. Layer with appropriate shoes, socks, hat and gloves using the same base, mid and outer layer combinations and appropriate fabrics. It is more difficult to prevent socks, gloves and hats from getting wet. Bring extras along so you can change.

Extreme cold can still present a challenge for your workout, even with layering. If you decide to brave very cold temps for your workout or competition, cover all exposed skin to prevent frostbite.

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