Fitness Friday

The Golden Rules of Gear for Your Winter Workout

How to be prepared for any workout weather condition Houston has to offer.

By Andrea Park December 4, 2015

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If you’ve lived in Houston for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that the fall and winter weather is, in a word, unpredictable. Unseasonably warm, muggy days can give way to brisk, chilly weather in a matter of hours. This doesn’t have to mean avoiding the outdoors and hibernating in the gym. With proper layering and planning, the only thing you’ll have to sweat this winter is your workout.

Fabric is Key

Just say no to cotton. While this classic fabric can do its job during light workouts, any amount of sweat or rain can quickly water-log your clothing.  Due to the slow drying time of cotton, moisture can get trapped against the skin causing rapid heat loss and extra friction—think chafing.  Instead, look for clothing that advertises “water-wicking” capabilities or “technical fabric” that draws moisture away from skin and encourages fast evaporation.  Consider technical fabric for each piece of gear that will be in contact with skin, including socks, hats, and sports bras. One exception where cotton is best? There’s nothing else quite as cozy as a warm and dry change of clothing when your workout is done. 

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Small Accessories, Big Impact

Winter in Houston often means coping with chilly mornings and warm afternoons. Easily removable accessories such as gloves, beanies, and arm warmers are highly effective at trapping heat in the extremities. Simply tuck them into your waistband or pocket when no longer needed. For a versatile piece that can be used year-round, a Buff is a worthwhile investment. Buffs are made of sweat-wicking, UV blocking material and can be folded into a headband/sweatband, neck warmer, face protector or head covering.

Be Visible

After setting our clocks back for daylight saving time, many of us find ourselves exercising in the dark more often that not. Be sure to wear brightly colored or reflective clothing and carry a blinking light if you’re going to be on or near busy streets.

Layer Up

The general rule of thumb is to dress as if the outside temperature is 10 degrees higher than reality. This will allow your body to warm up as you exercise without getting overheated and uncomfortable.  If rain is in the forecast, you may want to add an extra water-wicking layer and a hat with a brim to shield your face.

Quick Reference Layering Guide:

  • 65°F and up: Light shirt or tank and shorts. Optional: hat or sweatband. 
  • 55°-64°F: Short sleeve shirt and shorts. Optional: arm warmers.
  • 45°-54°F: Long sleeve shirt and shorts or tights. Recommended: gloves. 
  • 35°-44°F: Two layers of shirts and tights or pants. Recommended: gloves, hat, and ear warmers.
  • 34°F and under: Are you sure you live in Houston?
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