What to Wear for Winter Exercise

  • Posted by
  • Matt Cook
  • |
  • Mar 9, 2017 9:00:00 AM

What-to-Wear-for-Winter-Exercise.jpgSkipping out on the gym during the winter doesn’t mean your fitness levels need to suffer. While the warmer months offer plenty of opportunity to get outside and make the most of the mild weather, winter triathlon training comes with plenty of outdoor activities to stay fit. 

The snow, ice, hail, rain, and sleet pose no challenge for those who know how to dress for winter exercise. With emphasis on knowing the winter conditions and staying safe outdoors, here’s a guide to what to wear for winter exercise so you can stick to your training plan.

Know the Conditions

Before you put on your winter exercise gear, the first thing you must do is check the weather conditions and the wind chill. Depending on the exercise you have planned, factors such as temperature, wind, and moisture are key factors in planning a safe cold-weather workout. 

Wind and cold together are a powerful combination with the wind getting into your clothes and removing the insulating later of warm air that surrounds your body. When the air temperature is above -15 Celsius, your risk of frostbite is less than 5%. As soon as wind chill levels bring the temperature down lower, frostbite can occur on exposed skin in 30 minutes or less. It’s generally recommended to modify your schedule when you’re looking at temperatures below -18 Celsius.


Layering is the proper way to prepare for winter exercise. Overdressing or wearing one heavy outer garment will cause too much sweating, which will lead to dampness, chills, discomfort, and muscle tightness. With several layers, you can remove garments easily as you go along and put garments back on as you see fit.

When it comes to layers, you need a good base layer that keeps you dry, an insulation layer that keeps out the cold, and a protective outer layer that keeps out wind and precipitation. Insulation is key to keeping out the cold and keeping in the warmth.

As far as insulation goes, you can do well with a good layer of fleece: fleece is light, breathable, and a great low-investment alternative to other insulating layers. What’s more, you can find fleece made from recycled plastic, so you can feel good about your clothes being environmentally friendly.

Your outer layer should be a protective garment made from a breathable material such as a polyester blend—rubber and plastic are no-no’s as they trap heat and prevent evaporation, causing your body to sweat and the cold to come in.


When you’re making the most of your winter exercise, you’ll find that blood is being pulled away from your hands and toward your core. This is your body’s way of regulating its heat in less-than-warm conditions, and it’s the reason why you need to properly cover your head, hands, and feet to keep yourself warm.

Because 40% of your body heat can escape through your head, it’s recommended that you wear a knit hat that can be pulled over the ears. Additionally, lightweight gloves or mittens made from synthetic fibres should be enough to keep your hands warm—you can turn to heavy-duty waterproof gloves for those extra-cold days.

Winter Exercise Safety

Before plunging into snow banks and skating across ice rinks, it’s important to consider winter exercise safety. Only you will know exactly what limits your body has regarding exercise, but for those with certain conditions like asthma or heart problems, it’s important to review your exercise plans with your doctor.

It’s also a good idea to know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia to help you manage your time outdoors.


Topics: Triathlon Training


Matt Cook

Matt Cook

Father of 3 and former competitive swimmer, Matt completed his first Ironman 70.3 in 2013 in Muskoka. He has since completed another 70.3 and is planning on doing a full Ironman in 2016 or 2017. Matt took up triathlons for the challenge, to relax and to just to stay in shape so he can enjoy life with his family.

comments powered by Disqus
New Call-to-action

Latest Posts