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Last Days of Winter: Tips for Outdoor Winter Workouts

Going outside for a workout during the winter can seem like a chore. But with proper planning and the right gear, you can have an amazing experience while getting the exercise you need. Here are some tips for outdoor winter workouts that will be safe and enjoyable.

Dress in Layers

It’s important to layer clothes beneath an outer shell that’s as waterproof and windproof as possible. Layering helps maintain body heat and removes perspiration from your skin.  Closest to your skin should be a thin layer of synthetic microfibers, such as polypropylene or Capilene, to wick away sweat. The second layer provides insulation and helps remove moisture as well. Lightweight synthetic fleece makes a good second layer.  To wick moisture from your feet and hands, try polypro socks along with gloves under outer gloves. Your body loses considerable heat when your head is exposed, so a hat made of synthetic fleece is a good choice.

Don’t Dry Out

Cold air is often very dry and can rob the body of moisture. Accordingly, it’s a good idea to drink water during the hour or two before you go outside. Then, carry water bottles and drink between 20 and 40 ounces per hour of exercise.

Eat for Heat

It’s always important to maintain adequate caloric intake during prolonged exercise. This is especially true in winter, when the stress of cold increases caloric depletion. Energy bars work well.

Calling for Help

If you take your sport into the backcountry, carry a cell phone to call for aid in an emergency. Also let someone at home know the details of your adventure in advance.


Snowshoeing is a low-impact sport that can burn calories as well as running or skiing can. You don’t need a lot of gear or lessons.

Mountain Biking

If you enjoy mountain biking, you don’t need to stop in winter. In fact, you might discover you prefer it, as you can always unzip one of your layers and cool off, which is hard in the summer.  Consider wearing a head band or neck gaiter, or a balaclava under your helmet. Neoprene boot covers can be useful, since in near-zero temperatures, cycling speeds can generate enough wind chill to freeze exposed shins.  Also make sure you have reflective material on your clothes or bike, since winter days are short on daylight.


Hiking is usually fine in winter, as long as you’re dressed properly. Snow-covered ice can be treacherous, so you may want to use poles for stability or stabilizers on your shoes for traction. You should hike with a group of three or more people to ensure safety in an emergency. This allows one of the group to go for help while the other remains with an injured person.

Common Sense

While today’s space-age gear has helped tame winter, there are times – such as when the wind chill is dangerously low – when it’s probably best to stay indoors. But for the most part, with the proper gear, caution and determination, most of us can successfully take our favorite sports into a winter environment. Outdoor exercise can make a winter day, and no other season can make you feel more alive.

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