March 08, 2011

By Tina Haupert

This frigid winter made it really difficult for me to get motivated to exercise. I used to dread getting all bundled up and cleaning the snow and ice off my car just to drive to the gym.

I still don't enjoy venturing out into the cold, but training for a marathon in December and January in Boston definitely changed my mind about exercising outdoors. Now, instead of obsessing about the cold, I focus my attention on how great I will feel once I’ve accomplished my run. If I home in on my "just do it" mentality, I can almost always motivate myself to get moving! Forcing myself to go outside (and learning how to dress properly for the conditions) has made it much more enjoyable. Here’s how I get myself out the door and moving.

Dress in layers
When I exercise outdoors, layers are key. I start with a thin layer of wicking clothing—usually a short-sleeve shirt—which absorbs my sweat. I avoid wearing clothing made out of cotton because it holds in moisture, which leaves me wet and freezing. My next layer is a breathable jacket or long-sleeve shirt that protects me against the cold and wind, but still releases heat so I don’t get too hot. I also like to wear a jacket or vest with pockets, so I can store my gloves and hat if they start to make me too warm. Another good thing about dressing in layers? They allow me to remove pieces of clothing as my body begins to warm up.

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Cover my hands and head
My hands get cold quickly, so I always wear gloves once the temperature outside gets below 45 degrees or so. When the temperature drops below 30 degrees, I wear a hat to prevent heat loss through my head.

Warm up my clothes
On really cold days, I toss my exercise clothing in the dryer before I get dressed to go outside. The warmth only lasts a few minutes, but it makes that first burst of cold a lot more bearable. After about 10 minutes outside, the cold doesn't bother me as much, but I need that extra motivation to get me out the door!

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