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Healtheuniversity > English > Cardiac College > Get Active > Exercise & Cold Weather > Dressing for Outdoor Exercise in Cold Weather

Dressing for Outdoor Exercise in Cold Weather

Dress in Layers

You can safely exercise outdoors in cold weather if you dress right. Dressing in layers is the best way to dress for cold weather exercise because the layers trap air, which is a good insulator. Wear layers that will:

  • keep you dry
  • keep you warm
  • protect you from wet and windy conditions
  • protect your head, hands and feet
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Keep Dry

To keep dry, the layer next to the skin should be a ribbed undershirt made out of either:

  • a synthetic material such as “polypropylene”
  • a wool/cotton blend
  • a silk or wool/polypropylene blend

This layer allows moisture (sweat) to escape or “wick away”.

A 100% cotton T-shirt is the worst garment to wear next to the skin in cold weather. When cotton becomes wet with perspiration it sticks to the body and eliminates air pockets, reducing insulation and wicking away body heat.

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Stay Warm

To stay warm, the next layer should be loosely woven, like a loose-weave wool sweater. A loose weave allows for maximum air trapping, and the natural oils in wool mean that wool will insulate you even when it gets wet.

If you need another layer of warmth, this could be a sweat-top, track suit top, or a polar-fleece provided it is a cotton/wool or a synthetic blend. The fabric of this layer should be a tighter weave. This layer helps to reduce the effect of wind-chill and gives you more insulation.

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Protect Against Wet and Windy Conditions

This layer protects you from wind, rain, and snow, and should be water resistant. It is very important for this layer to be “breathable”. This layer is used for wind, wet and extreme cold.

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Protect Your Hands and Feet

Since you lose 20% of your body heat from your head, wearing a hat is important in very cold weather. Mittens and wool blend socks will protect your hands and feet from frostbite and skin damage.​

If you find that you are more prone to getting angina when you breathe in cold air, you should consider using a face mask or wrapping up well with a scarf. By covering your mouth you will be able to breathe warmer air when you go outdoors. Breathing in air that is warmed up from a mask or scarf will help prevent the narrowing of your coronary arteries and the likelihood of experiencing angina.

Wear your usual running shoes. They will have a good grip on the ground so that you can avoid slipping, and are also lightweight. Do not wear heavy winter boots. Lifting heavy boots will increase the effort you need to walk your usual exercise prescription pace. You may also consider attaching traction to your shoes to help prevent falling or slipping. Find out what to look for in a running shoe (PDF, opens in new window) »

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