Dressing for cold weather exercise can be summed up with one simple word: layers. Layers help you stay dry, insulate you against the cold and protect you from the elements. You can take layers off and put them on as necessary. Let's take a look at what kinds of layers you should wear and how you should wear them.
One thing to keep in mind is that if you're warm when you start out, you will probably end up overheated. Remember that running generates body heat, so you should feel a little cold when you begin your run and allow your body to warm itself up naturally.
When you're dressing to run in the cold, two or three layers of clothing should work. Each layer has a different job to do. Your first layer, the one closest to your skin, should wick moisture away from your body. If you wear a cotton shirt, the cotton will pull the sweat away, but it also holds onto that moisture. So, look into athletic clothing made of synthetics like nylon, polyester and rayon that's specially designed to pull away moisture and keep it away from your skin.
The second layer is the one that keeps you warm. This is your insulating layer. Make sure you wear materials like fleece or insulating, heavy cotton. The second layer can also help out your first layer by absorbing any excess moisture to keep you warm and dry.
The third layer is optional, depending on the weather conditions. This layer should be something waterproof, like nylon or GORE-TEX®. Make sure that any zippers or fasteners have closures over them to prevent snow or rain from blowing in. And don't forget about your lower body, either. You can also layer your legs with running tights, or pants with shorts underneath.
Now, what about your extremities? Keep your hands warm and dry with running gloves that are specially made to wick away moisture. You can even buy warming gel at a sporting goods store, which is a lotion that adds a very thin layer of insulation to your hands. In extreme cold, some people even wear a pair of latex plastic gloves underneath their sport gloves. Remember to protect your head and ears, too, since you can lose up to 25 percent of your body heat through your head. Try a water-resistant hat or headband. It should have a snug fit to insulate your head properly. Headbands and hats also work to keep sweat, rain or snow out of your eyes.
Cold weather can wreak havoc on your skin. Keep reading to find out how to protect your skin from the elements.