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Keep It Fresh

Be Cool, Stay Warm

The first tinge of winter is in the air--time to plan ahead for outdoor exercise in colder weather. Some people use the cold as an excuse for staying indoors. But think again: a recent study in Obesity Reviews suggests that staying indoors where its toasty warm may be adding to our overweight problems—and not just because we’re being more sedentary. Avoiding exposing our bodies to colder temperatures reduces the calories we burn and reduces our ability to produce heat when we need it. Winter has its own calorie-burning delights, from quiet crisp nature walks to giggly snowboarding. Just follow these tips for dressing for cold weather to keep you warm, safe, and comfortable.

The American College of Sports Medicine and other experts offer a slew of tips to stay warm—the goal is to “maintain the warm air pocket we generate close to our body.”

1. Dress in layers. Duh! Although I look back fondly to my youth on Brooklyn, when we dressed in thick, heavy playsuits that left us waddling like the roundish people in Wall-E, I bless modern technology. Fake is good, and three or more thinner layers are better than one or two thicker ones.
2. Thin polyester and polypropylene are best, especially for the inner layer, since they are lightweight, do not readily absorb moisture, and wick sweat away from your skin and thus insulate you even when you sweat.
3. Avoid wool or cotton since they absorb moisture easily and they become heavier and bulkier when wet. An exception might be polypropylene on the inside and thin wool socks on the outside to keep your toes toasty.
4. Avoid down and pile clothing since they can overheat you and cause too much sweating.
5. Invest in a pair of thin polypropylene glove liners; mittens are warmer than gloves.
6. When it’s wet out, add a waterproof outer layer, preferably with vents to let the heat and humidity your body will produce escape. Accumulating moisture inside your shell is a recipe for hypothermia.
7. Cover your head with a hat or headband made from windblock fleece—this allows for sweat to evaporate while blocking the wind.
8. Avoid tight clothing, which hampers your circulation.
9. Protect your eyes from bright or reflected sunlight and from the cold wind; be sure your sunglasses are UV-safe

More Tips
Breathe through your nose to moisten the air before it hits your lungs. Cold, dry air can make the air passages in your lungs to constrict, causing feelings of chest tightness or persistent dry cough (even if you don’t have asthma). Drink plenty of water even if you don’t really feel thirsty—dry winter air can increase your water loss through breathing. Protect your skin with a good moisturizer and your lips with lip balm. Take a look at a book I edited, "The Cold Weather Catalog--Learning to Love Winter." And for goodness sakes, come in out of the cold when you start to shiver and your fingers turn blue!
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