If You Struggle to Exercise When It’s Cold and Dark, These 9 Products Can Make It Easier—Starting at Just $9

From neck warmers to base layers to wool socks.

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Darn Tough Function 5 Over the Calf Padded Cushion Socks
Photo:

Real Simple / Michelle Barnes

For many, it’s much more difficult to summon up the energy to go to the gym, on a walk, or to another chosen athletic activity when it’s freezing and the sun’s set by 4:30 p.m. The couch sounds better. Soup is calling. You’re ignoring your watch yelling at you to hit your step count. According to studies, reduced sun exposure reduces our energy levels, and winter’s made to be a season of hibernation; still, moving our bodies can feel good and boost our health, so the exercise routines are still important—but even more difficult to stick to.

Picking the right activewear can help. What will keep you warm, and also wick away sweat once you’re warmed up so you don’t overheat, so that venturing out into the elements is appealing rather than miserable? Layering is a fine art, and these leggings, long-sleeve workout tops, jackets, neck warmers, and more will help you do so effectively. Read on for 9 ways to brave the cold this winter.

9 Products to Help You Move During Winter:

  • Lululemon Run for It Neck Warmer, $29 (was $38); lululemon.com
  • Darn Tough Function 5 Over-The-Calf Padded Cushion Socks, $31; rei.com.
  • Lululemon Keep the Heat Thermal Tight, $128; lululemon.com.
  • Lululemon Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve Shirt 2.0, From $78; lululemon.com.
  • Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket, $161 (was $229); rei.com.
  • Ibex Wool Glove Liners, $50; ibex.com.
  • Madewell Recycled Cotton Beanie, $35; nordstrom.com.
  • Sorel Out N’ About III Low Waterproof Shoe, $110; amazon.com.
  • Columbia Fast Trek II Fleece Headband, $9 (was 14); columbia.com.
Run for It All Neck Warmer

Lululemon

Lululemon Run for It Neck Warmer


Before upgrading any of your existing gear, a small fix that can go a long way is picking out a cozy neck warmer that lets you breathe normally but covers some of your more visible skin above your jacket. This neckwarmer, designed for skiing, is crafted from nylon and Lycra that’s ultimately flexible.


To buy: $29 (was $38); lululemon.com

Darn Tough Function 5 Over-The-Calf Padded Cushion Socks

REI

Darn Tough 5 Over-The-Calf Padded Cushion Socks


These bad boys are crafted in Vermont, so you know they’re good. Wool socks are an ideal year-round construction; while we associate wool with being bundled, the material actually has sweat-wicking properties that allow you a cooler exercise experience, so you can use them in the summer too. Better yet, the brand offers a lifetime guarantee: If you wear them out, it will replace your pair for free. 


To buy: $31; rei.com.

Keep the Heat Thermal High-Rise Tight

Lululemon

Lululemon Keep the Heat Thermal High Rise Tight

For winter, you need an actual full-length legging. This pair is a true high waist, which I appreciate as a tall girl, and it avoids cold snaps at the ankle. You’ll be grateful for the quick-drying wool blend. Plus, it comes in four different colors.

To buy: $128; lululemon.com.

Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve Shirt 2.0 Race Length

Lululemon

Lululemon Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve Shirt 2.0

Lululemon has long been established as a pioneer and a go-to in the activewear space. This particular top is nice and thick, which I love because it allows me to brace myself against the chilliest of winds, but won’t make me overheat. I often wear it under sweaters and dressier clothing for additional insulation because it’s subtle and warm. 

To buy: From $78; lululemon.com.

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

REI

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket

The top layer perhaps matters most. The right jacket can make a significant difference in how resistant you are to winds and dropping temperatures. And if you’re really braving the elements (like rain or snow), you’ll want an appropriate waterproofing. For most activities, I’d prefer a regular waist-length jacket so that length doesn’t interfere with my strides or movement. This Patagonia pick has a bit of puff for warmth, but is airy enough not to weigh you down. 

To buy: $161 (was $229); rei.com.

Ibex Glove Liner

Ibex

Ibex Wool Glove Liners

I nearly always forget to bring gloves when it’s cold out. While you might be able to shove your hands into jacket pockets while out and about, that method fails when you’re running or exercising in most forms. And frozen fingers are, for me, the most painful aspect of being caught in frigid temps. Give your digits a favor by dressing them up while you’re out, and don’t forget to pick a touchscreen-friendly pair so that you can change your music, respond to messages, and more while on the go. This merino wool pair will serve you well, and I recommend leaving them in your coat pocket so you never forget them. 

To buy:  $50; ibex.com.

Madewell Recycled Cotton Beanie

Nordstrom

Madewell Recycled Cotton Beanie

The top of your head is important to remember when in the cold. You’ll lose heat through it if you’re not protected. Generally, you should pick a beanie or a cap made from a material that will warm you up—but let’s be real, having sweaty hair is the absolute worst, so make sure it’s wicking too. I recommend the Madewell Recycled Cotton Beanie, and it comes in multiple colors too. 

To buy: $35; nordstrom.com.

Sorel Women's Out 'N About III Low Waterproof Shoe

Amazon

Sorel Out ‘N About III Low Waterproof Shoe

Whether you opt for outdoor exercise in extreme weather or simply need apparel to get you from one warm space to another, consider your worst nightmare: sloshing through a 35-degree puddle, or worse, an ice slick. Your sneakers should have traction for grip so as to not cause any spills, and ideally they should be weatherproof to keep your feet toasty regardless of what they encounter. Opt for Sorel’s low waterproof sneaker for ultimate protection.

To buy: $110; amazon.com.

Columbia Fast Trek II Fleece Headband

Columbia

Fast Trek II Fleece Headband

Not a beanie person? All good. There are other ways to keep your noggin covered. As long as you have your ears and top of your head protected, you should be able to hold onto the necessary heat. A fleece headband can do wonders for you, and it looks pretty darn cute, too. Match them to your outfits as an accessory, or use the same whenever you venture outside. This 36-percent-off Columbia pick is nice and snuggly, and it comes in six different colors.

To buy: $9 (was $14); columbia.com.

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