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Winter Exercise Essentials

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Updated June 20, 2014

When the cold temperatures creep in, it's time to change your exercise routine to fit the weather. That doesn't mean you have to move indoors (although that's not always a bad idea). It means that you need to have some quality clothes in your exercise wardrobe to make workouts more enjoyable. Below are some of my favorite clothes for both men and women to layer up in the winter and keep warm and dry.

1. Winter Running Pants for Men and Women

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One of the most important things you need, winter, spring, summer or fall, is, of course, pants.  But in the winter, you need special pants if you want to walk or run outside when it's really cold.

My husband hates that running tights are often the best way to keep the legs warm and toasty, so he throws on a pair of shorts over them, which is acceptable in the fitness fashion world.

These are great because they are light weight and breathable, they have a little pocket for your keys and they have reflective graphics so you won't get run over.  These tend to be on the lighter side, so I wouldn't choose these if the temps are in the single digits.

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2. Patagonia Women's Capilene Top

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For your top, you'll also want to stick with something lightweight and breathable so your sweat evaporates, which will help keep you dry and warm. Patagonia's Capilene Top is the perfect base layer for outdoor exercise and light enough to fit under a long-sleeved top during cold weather. The silky fabric won't chafe and you'll find this top will last a long time. I've had mine for going on three years and it's still in excellent shape.
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3. Patagonia Men's Silkweight Capilene Crew

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This silkweight shirt (owned and loved by my husband) is so light and comfortable, it's almost like being naked with one big exception -- you're warm and dry. It's light enough to wear alone on warm days, but breathable enough to wear under heavier layers when it's cold outside. It's also perfect as a base layer for skiing and snowboarding.

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4. Men's Brooks Infinit 1/2 Zip top

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Your next layer, if you're wearing a base layer, is a breathable top -- either a vest or a long-sleeve shirt, depending on your preferences and how cold it is outside. This half-zip top is a good choice for cold weather, especially if it's raining or snowing outside. You can control your body temperature by zipping it up or down and the nylon outer material sheds water and wind, so you may be able to wear this without a jacket, if it's not too cold out.
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5. The North Face Impulse 1/2 Zip Hoodie

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This top is perfect for outdoor workouts because it's light and breathable, but it also keeps you warm without adding too much bulk. You can wear this over a base layer, like the silk long underwear above and, for extra warmth, under a wind jacket or a fleece jacket.  The fabric is designed to wick away sweat, but what I really love are the reflective details on the arms and chest.  Not only will you be safer running in the dark, but those details add a flattering element to this top.

6. The North Face Power Stretch Gloves

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Finding a good pair of gloves for outdoor exercise is tough, but the North Face Power Stretch Gloves are great for keeping your hands warm and dry during cold or wet weather. They're made of fleece, which keeps you warm, and the outer material has Nylon/Lycra spandex which provides wind resistance and protection from the elements. These gloves have even kept my hands warm on bitterly cold days, so they would also work for skiing or snowboarding.
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7. North Face Apex Bionic Jacket for Men and Women

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If you live in colder climates, this jacket is a must for any outdoor activity. My husband and I both have this jacket and we both love it for different reasons. He loves it because it offers protection from the elements without adding bulk. I love it because it blocks the wind and still fits under my heavier winter coat. It can be a little warm unless it's very cold out, but it's a good choice for long runs or walks. The internal layer is made of fleece, which keeps you warm and dry, and the outer material is strong and flexible.
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8. The North Face Flash Fleece Beanie

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This is another North Face favorite that my husband and I both love. It's 100% fleece, so it keeps your head warm for everything from running to shoveling snow. It's not as great when it's windy out, but it's so lightweight, it's actually comfortable to wear all the time. It comes in different colors for both men and women and, best of all, it won't make your head itch.
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