Holiday-themed road races and organized trail runs are rising in popularity, as the temperatures outside continue to plummet. With this trend in mind, we invited Shawn Richardville, Team Leader at the Parkview Health and Fitness Center, to share his advice for the ideal late-autumn/winter attire for those planning to brave the elements.
If you can’t stand putting in the miles on a treadmill or stationary bike and just need the change of scenery, there are some precautions to take when exercising outdoors in colder conditions.
Dressing in layers is very important. A common mistake is actually dressing too warmly. Layering allows you to remove a layer of clothing as you start to sweat, and then put back on as you become chilled. The layer closest to your skin should consist of a synthetic material to draw sweat away from your body, unlike cotton, which would stay wet next to your skin. A middle layer of fleece or wool could then be used for insulation. An outer layer that’s waterproof and breathable is then recommended. Avoid heavy jackets or coats used as an outer layer, which can cause you to overheat.
Protecting your extremities is another must for outdoor exercising in cold weather. Blood flow is concentrated more to your body’s core in colder conditions, which leaves your extremities more vulnerable to frostbite. Your head should be covered enough to also protect your ears. A scarf or facemask could be used, which would also warm the air before it enters your lungs. A thin pair of gloves underneath a heavier pair of gloves or mittens would allow you to layer down your hands if they start to sweat. Try loosening up your shoelaces and wear a pair of thermal socks over a pair of synthetic socks.
Be aware of the elements. Ultimately, you want to be very cautious in colder weather. Try to avoid rainy and/or windy conditions that can make it nearly impossible to keep dry or warm. Finally, be cognizant of the fact that any exposed skin is vulnerable to frostbite and should be properly protected.