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Staying warm for winter fitness

For those of us who were active through the summer and want to keep active into the winter, here’s a brief guide on how to stay warm and happy. We’ll cover you from head to toe in gear knowledge and some overall truths when it comes to spending time in inclement weather.

The first few centimetres of fresh snow have already accumulated on my deck. I have dug out my winter clothing supplies and laid them out to refresh my memory.

Before we get started, most of the information provided will depend on how active you are going to be. Waiting for the bus will be different than spending the day cross-country skiing on a sunny winter afternoon. Going for a run will require completely different attire than shovelling your driveway and your 100-year-old neighbour’s sidewalks. You get the idea.

Let’s start with your head. It’s one of the most important parts and easiest to keep warm. I tend to think less is more. No matter what you’re doing, carry a headband with you. It’ll keep your ears and forehead protected. For those colder harsher winds, I throw on a toque. If you have the room, pack a face mask. They can be a lifesaver when conditions get more aggressive.

The upper body is where it really depends on what you’re planning to do. For being outdoors, layers are where it’s at. You’ll want to start with a long sleeved base layer, something close to the skin. This will help wick moisture off your body and keep you dry. Next, is the midlayer. This can be a thin and comfy fleece, wool or a polyester top. Then we want to retain the heat with an insulated jacket with a hood. The last layer is mostly for protection from the wind but you’ll want it to be waterproof and breathable. When shopping for your outer layer, I recommend that you buy a size up or bring your other layers to ensure a solid fit. Additionally, look for a jacket with pit zips, it’s surprising how much they help regulate your temperature.

I find the lower body the easiest part. I recommend long johns and pants to match the activity. That can be shorts for a warm run or wind and waterproof pants for a more adventurous outing.

Footwear is always the hardest. Everyone hates having cold or damp feet in the winter. Of all the gear you’ll buy, footwear may be one of the pricier pieces but it’s worth it. You will definitely want your winter kicks to have a waterproof and breathable membrane. They come in varying heights but if they go past your ankles, you should be covered. Don’t forget about insulation. Some people prefer to wear heavier weight socks, to be more in control while others opt for well-insulated boots to keep their toes warm.

As you can see, dressing for winter is a very personal decision and various factors come into play, such as activity level, and if you are generally a warm or cold person. Remember, layers are your friend. Layers with zippers are even better. Get outside, test your gear and get to know how it works.

See you out there.

– Joel Benitez

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