Your Complete Guide to Winter Workout Clothes

Fact checked by Olga Sadouskaya, MD
Clinical Pharmacologist, Chief Medical Officer

The cold weather in winter can make it difficult to get your workout in. But you don’t have to miss your sweat sessions. With the right gear, you can keep working out, even when it’s cold outside. Plus, there’s something pretty magical about winter workouts: the snow-covered landscape, the crisp air…

But what should you wear while exercising in these conditions? And how can you make sure your winter workout gear stays intact?

This guide will go over the best types of clothing and gear to keep you warm and comfortable during your winter workouts. From layering techniques to the best materials for cold weather, we’ve got you covered. So, whether you’re hitting the gym, the road, or the slopes, this guide will help you choose the right winter workout clothes to stay active all season.

How to dress for outdoor workouts in winter

It’s time to gear up for winter. You’ve got the right mindset but are unsure what to wear. You want your winter workout clothes to keep you warm and dry while allowing a full range of motion. And they need to be durable enough to last through several seasons so you don’t have to replace them yearly.

The good news is that there are plenty of options for winter workout gear available.

First, let’s address the many benefits of exercising even during winter. When working out outside, the most important thing is to regulate your body temperature. Here are many benefits of exercising in the winter:

  • Boosts mood: Exercise releases endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. This is especially important during the shorter, darker days of winter.
  • Helps control weight: Regular exercise can help control weight by burning calories and keeping metabolism elevated. The holiday season can be challenging to maintain a healthy weight, so staying active is especially important.
A woman stretching post run wearing the right workout clothes for winter
  • Improves immune system: Regular exercise can improve overall health, including the functioning of the immune system. This can help prevent colds and flu in the winter.
  • Improves sleep: Regular exercise can improve the quality of sleep, which is essential for overall health and well-being.
  • Increases flexibility and endurance: Regular exercise can help to increase flexibility and endurance and helps to reduce muscle and joint pain.
  • Enhances winter sports and activities: Exercising in winter can also help to prepare for winter sports and activities, such as skiing and snowboarding.

Regular exercise is vital for overall health and well-being all year round. Staying active in the winter can help prevent the winter blues’ negative effects and maintain overall health.

Feel great in any weather!
Download WeatherWell to track 20+ weather-related symptoms and predict how upcoming conditions will affect you.
Weatherwell app screenshot

So how do you dress for winter exercise?

When dressing for winter exercise, the first thing to keep in mind is to layer your clothing to trap heat and keep you warm. Some key things to add to your outfit are:

  • Base layer: Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, such as a long-sleeved shirt or leggings made from polyester or merino wool. These materials will help to keep sweat away from your skin, which can help keep you warm.
  • Mid-layer: This layer is for insulation. Pieces like a fleece or thermal top can help trap heat and keep you warm.
  • Outer layer: Finish with a waterproof and windproof outer layer to weather harsh conditions.
  • Headwear: A hat or headband will keep your head and ears warm.
  • Gloves or mittens: They keep your hands warm and protect your skin from the dry, cold air.
  • Socks: Wear warm, moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet warm and dry.
  • Footwear: Ensure you have proper footwear, such as insulated boots or shoes with good tread. This will help to keep your feet warm and give you better traction on slippery surfaces.
  • Reflective gear: Consider reflective gear that will make you more visible to cars and other people, especially if you’re exercising in low-light conditions.

Lastly, your clothing needs will vary depending on your activity level and the weather conditions, so it’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast before heading out and adjust your clothing accordingly.

What to look for in winter workout clothes

When shopping for winter workout clothes, there are a few key things to look for to ensure that you stay warm and comfortable. Some factors to consider when choosing winter walking gear include:

  • Moisture-wicking fabric: Look for clothing made from materials that will wick moisture away from your skin, such as polyester, nylon, or merino wool. This will help keep sweat away from your skin, which can help keep you warm.
  • Insulation: Look for clothing that provides insulation, such as fleece or thermal tops. This will help to trap heat and keep you warm.
  • Waterproof and windproof: Look for clothing that is both waterproof and windproof to keep you dry and protected from the wind.
A man running in the snow wearing winter workout clothes
  • Breathability: Look for clothing that is breathable, as this will help to keep you comfortable and prevent overheating while you exercise — even in winter.
  • Stretch: Look for clothing that has some stretch, such as leggings or pants. This will give you more freedom of movement and will help you to stay comfortable during your workout.
  • Reflective elements: If you plan to exercise in low-light conditions, look for clothing with reflective elements that will make you more visible to cars and other people.
  • Durability: Look for clothing that is high quality and well made, as it will hold up to wear and tear better and will last longer.
  • Proper fit: Make sure that the clothes you choose fit well and don’t restrict your movement. This will help you to stay comfortable and perform better during your workout.

Choosing the best walking shoes for winter

When choosing walking shoes for winter, there are a few key things to look for to ensure that your feet stay warm, dry, and comfortable in the best winter walking shoes. They include:

  • Waterproofing: Look for waterproof shoes or ones with a waterproof membrane to keep your feet dry in wet or slushy conditions.
  • Insulation: Shoes with an insulated lining can keep your feet warm in cold weather.
  • Traction: Opt for shoes that have good tread and provide good traction on slippery surfaces, such as ice and snow.
  • Support: Shoes with proper foot support can keep you stable on uneven ground and prevent injuries.
  • Durability: Well-made shoes will last longer in different weather conditions.
  • Ankle support: Some walking shoes have a higher ankle collar that can provide support and protection. This can be useful when walking on an uneven surface or in snowy conditions.

Plan your winter workouts with WeatherWell!
Download our free app to get hourly forecasts and choose the right time for your outdoor exercise.

Tips for looking after your winter workout gear

If you want to keep your workout routine going strong through the winter, you’ll need to make sure your gear is ready for the challenge. Here are some tips for looking after your workout clothes for winter:

  • Wash your clothes regularly. Sweat and dirt can build up in your clothes, reducing their performance. Be sure to wash your clothes regularly, following the care instructions on the label.
  • Dry clothes properly. Ensure your clothes are completely dry before storing them. Damp clothes can develop mold and mildew, damaging the fabric and reducing the effectiveness of waterproofing and insulation.
  • Use a detergent for sportswear. Using a detergent that is specially formulated for sportswear will help to effectively remove sweat and odor and look after the fabric.
  • Keep your clothes in a cool, dry place.
  • Take care of your shoes. Clean them regularly and dry them. Use a water-repellent spray to help keep the shoes waterproof and to prevent leather from cracking.
  • Rotate your gear. Have several sets of winter workout clothes so they have time to dry out between uses and prolong their lifespan.
  • Check for wear and tear. Regularly inspect your gear for signs of wear and tear, such as frayed seams or holes in the fabric. If you notice any damage, it’s best to mend or replace the item to ensure it continues to perform well.

Wrapping up

You can make winter exercise fun with the right winter workout clothes and footwear. The tips we’ve given here will help you choose the best gear that will keep you warm, safe, and stylish during the colder months. Use our guide as a starting point and consult with professionals.

March 15, 2023