What you wear for outdoor exercise in the winter matters. Not just because you need to stay warm enough to finish your workout, but also because if the clothes fit and are fun to wear, you’re not going to feel like a frump when you head out the door. Seriously, do yourself a favor and skip the baggy sweat pants look.
Head to Target or Kohl’s if you need athletic wear. Yes, you can find some items at a thrift store, though it will be hit or miss. Yes, I love those fancy catalogs, too, though I can’t afford the clothes. Target and Kohl’s athletic wear are within everyone’s budget. Make sure you have at least 2 sets of whatever you need and wash them in cold water. Athletic clothes dry quickly on the line making it possible to switch between 2 sets if you exercise every day.
Start with the inner layer.
Beyond the obvious, or maybe not so obvious underwear, wear a supportive bra in a fun color. As a 32C, Target’s ProSpirit brand fits my size and budget. If you’re a walker, you may want to try one of the tank tops with the bra included for an extra layer of warmth.
This Tek Gear shirt from Kohl’s is the layer that wicks away perspiration from your skin. Walkers don’t need to worry about the wicking qualities of this layer as much as runners do, though having a soggy shirt next to your body will make you feel cold sooner. You can find a similar type of shirt in the athletic department at Target.
I chose this shirt because it zips in the front. I use zippers to vent when I start to warm up during my run. It also has thumb holes in case I need to stay warmer, otherwise I don’t use them. A walker may find them useful since you won’t be generating as much heat as a runner would. Just remember you’ll need more layers on your torso than on your legs.
Pants matter almost as much as the shirt does. Make sure the pants fit properly. As a short person with a normal build after 5 kids, I’ve had a terrible time finding pants. These running pants from Target work well for me. Designed for cold weather, there’s a zipper at the bottom to keep the heat inside the pants. I wore these during a 28 degree run and felt fine. If I need to add another layer, I can wear regular running pants over top, and still look and feel fine.
Yes, it’s been all black, except for the bra, up to now. You can find fun pants to wear; I just couldn’t find ones that fit me. This fleece top from Kohl’s has become my favorite outer layer during the winter time. It has a zipper at the top for venting, and a big pocket in the front where I can tuck my gloves when I need to take them off. With all the wild colors and patterns fleece comes in, you can have a lot of fun with this layer.
I don’t recommend wearing a fleece top with a hood. For runners, the hood prevents them from seeing in all directions plus it gets in the way. As runners, we need to keep an eye on our surroundings. Walkers have a similar issue, though they can get away with using a hood when walking on a track.
Possible Final Outer Layer
Depending on the temperature (I wear this at 28 degrees), the wind, who you are, and how fast you are going, you may need another layer over top of the fleece. If you are out when it’s dark, make sure this layer has reflective material or wear a reflective vest over the fleece layer. Even though this particular jacket appears to be thin, the material helps to keep the heat inside my clothes. Note the zipper for venting.
Accessories can add lots of color and fun to your running/walking gear. First of all, make sure your gloves can keep your hands warm. For me, wearing 2 layers of gloves means I can take off a layer when I get too warm. I start wearing the thinner Thinsulate gloves in October because I get cold so easily. Personally, I find the ski type gloves to be too bulky, plus I can’t reach into a pocket and grab a kleenex while wearing the gloves. You can also find gloves with special finger pads if you carry a smartphone to track your runs like I do.
Wear a hat. No matter what. Wear a hat. Have fun with your hat. Try ear flaps or a brightly colored one, and wear it. So much of your body heat escapes through your head.
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