Best workout gear to keep you active during the winter months
Maintaining your fitness routine during the winter months is crucial: it helps you avoid holiday weight gain, boosts your energy levels, and gives you a head start on your New Year's resolutions.
Plenty of people head to an indoor gym when it cools down, but outdoor workouts offer unexpected benefits. For example, it's harder to run, walk, or bike on snow, so you'll burn more calories with less effort, and you'll enjoy a natural mood boost from the sunlight.
If you hit the streets to exercise while Frosty's in town, you'll need to strategize and choose your apparel wisely. Different body parts have different needs when there's a nip in the air, and you should have cold weather safety in mind, too. These winter fitness picks will keep you warm and safe from head to toe until spring.
Arms & Legs
Staying toasty during an icy sweat session is all about wearing the right layers. A base of compression undershirts and leggings will help on both fronts: the tighter fit increases blood flow to your legs and arms so you wind up warmer, while the fabric wicks away excess moisture for a pleasant, dry run.
Under Armour's popular Cold Gear line has compression undershirts and leggings for men and women that will hold in heat--not sweat--when you head out. They're also thin enough to wear under thermals, hoodies, or jackets for brutally bitter days.
Hands & Feet
You probably aren't concerned about your fingers, toes, or nose when you lace up your sneakers on sunny days, but from November to March that oversight spells big trouble. Your body's smaller extremities might fall prey to numbness, chilblains, and frostbite if they're exposed to the elements for too long, but you can keep them warm with the right accessories.
If your first instinct is to reach for big, woolly socks for your winter jog, think again--circulation is more important than insulation when it comes to preventing frozen toes. Athletic shoes are also often designed with vents to cool down your feet, making your sock choice doubly important.
You'll want a thin fabric that moderates your body's temperature with compression instead of bulk, and a taller sock will save your ankles from sudden gusts. This pair from CEP is designed for cold-weather running, but they work for any outdoor activity.
Your hands are also at risk during frosty runs. You've got to maintain a healthy blood flow to shield your mitts from freezing air. Lightweight compression gloves use the same technology as your compression leggings and undershirt for warm fingertips. Feel free to stop and answer that text, too--they're touchscreen compatible, so you're always protected.
Face & Neck
Burglars give ski masks a bum rap. Aside from shielding your face's delicate skin from harsh winds on the slopes, ski masks also help you breathe easier when there's a nip in the air. Frigid, dry air is rough on your lungs (especially if you struggle with allergies or asthma), and a mask that covers your mouth and nose will heat up the air as you breathe.
This active mask protector shields your face and neck from biting winds, but there's plenty of room around your nose and mouth to breathe comfortably. The wide opening across your eyes leaves space for glasses or goggles. This mask also works as an added layer of warmth under scarves, earmuffs, or hats on the chilliest days.
Staying active outdoors during winter poses its own set of safety hazards, and falling is one of the most significant risks you'll encounter. The same snowy, uneven ground that helps you burn more calories also increases the chances you'll trip on the trail or slip on an icy sidewalk, and a nasty fall might sideline you for months.
You can reduce your risk of falls by exercising as the sun rises (the heat will help melt some of the snow and ice), slowing down your pace, and shortening your stride if you're walking or running. Strapping on a pair of snow traction cleats like Yaktrax helps maintain your balance and puts confidence back in your step.
Visibility is another vital issue. Shorter, darker days obstruct your sight, and other drivers, bikers, or runners will struggle to notice you. A waterproof headlamp flashlight helps you keep an eye on upcoming twists and turns, and reflective bands for your wrists, arms, and ankles increase your visibility on the road.
Winter warriors who pedal for fitness should attach some ultrabright LED taillights to their bike for protection on hectic streets. If you're still having trouble sticking to your chilly fitness plan after these tips, two is better than one--you can bring along an energetic furry friend wearing this pinnacle of canine fashion.
Abby Stassen is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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