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The weather is on the turn. Now that darkness draws in early and temperatures have dropped below what we Brits are generally willing to tolerate, it’s advisable to tweak our routines to continue reaping the benefits of our outdoor jaunts, whilst remaining safe and comfortable.
Things to consider when exercising outside
Safety comes first, so opt for well-lit, frequented streets if you’re on the move, and take precautions, such as scheduling workouts when others are likely to be around if you’re planning a HIIT blast in the park – particularly when it’s dark.
A reflective vest can ensure you’re easily visible as you cross roads or if you’re cycling - they’re far more effective than fluorescent clothing, which is only easy to see when it is light.
Alternatively, experimenting with a different sport; such as cycling, hiking or swimming – can help to get you out of a rut. Bear in mind that law-enforced gym closures due to the pandemic have made 2020 a struggle for many health and fitness professionals, so if you’re able to supplement your daily bike ride with a virtual group class in the park, please consider doing so.
If you're trying to adopt an exercise regime for the first time, we recommend sticking to the same time of day for your workout where possible, to help enforce the habit.
Read more: The best exercise kit for women 2021
Consider where you’re going before you head out
Unless you’re planning a wild swimming session (in which case you’ll need to take tide times and water quality into consideration), the “best” time for exercising outside will be largely dependent on your schedule (can you squeeze in a workout before work or during your lunch break?), the area you like to exercise in (is it more or less busy at certain points during the day?) and your preference. You’ll also want to check the weather ahead of time so you don’t get a surprise soaking.
And, on the subject of showers, if you’re committed to training outdoors during the winter, it’s important to wear and use appropriate kit to ensure you keep warm and dry despite the elements and don’t compromise the quality of your workout.
Here, we’ve listed all the essentials to see you through a winter of outside exercising.
If you refuse to let wet British winters thwart your outdoor adventures, waterproof gear’s got to be high on your list of must-haves. Hikers and cyclists will love Red Original’s newly-launched adventure backpack for its many weather-proof features, which include a roll-top and welded seams for a completely waterproof finish.
Made from CYCLEPET Fabric, which is composed of 100% recycled PET plastic bottles (a win where the environment is concerned), the backpack also boasts a removable organiser – which provides extra padding for devices – and reflective details for night-time excursions.
It’s super light-weight, weighing less than 1kg, however, an adjustable chest strap and cushioned, air-flow panels on the back of the bag ensure it remains comfortable even when carrying heavier loads.
REFLECT360 Explorer Running Jacket
Designed with dreary British winters in mind, the Explorer jacket, which has a showerproof, water-resistant coating, is a worthwhile addition for those who favour evening or early morning excursions.
A light-weight, soft-touch polyester shell fends of wind, whilst REFLECT360 material on the sleeves makes you easy to spot in the darkness thanks to the multi-colour reflectivity.
Gel-Cumulus 22 G-TX
Waterproof trainers are a must for winter runs. The Gel-Cumulus 22 G-TX has GORE-TEX panelling on the upper shoe to repel water and ensure feet stay dry, whilst the rubber sole provides grip for navigating wet surfaces.
Best for neutral runners, Flytefoam technology in the midsole provides a cushioned, cloud-like landing with each stride.
Buttery soft and so snug you’ll likely want to don them for long after your workout (though that probably wouldn’t be advisable), the Tights Long by ON Running are, dare we say, the gold standard when it comes to the ideal bottoms for mild to cold weather activity.
Sporting ankle zips with sealed seams and an adjustable waistband, they’re not only incredibly easy to manoeuvre in and out of, but also supremely comfy thanks to the highly customisable fit.
Embossed panels provide insulation and extra warmth to tendons above the knee, whilst hidden pockets in the waistband provide storage for small items. Try not to pack these with anything too weighty, though, which may cause them to slide down.
The Tights Long are available in both Men’s and Women’s specs, and come in five sizes: xs-xl.
Jabra Elite Active 75t
Nothing quite influences the quality of a workout like the audio that accompanies it, does it? Consider the times you crushed a PB whilst jamming to your favourite and most motivating tunes, and the times your training sessions were cut short because of dwindling earbud battery.
Jabra’s Elite Active 75t were designed with these criteria in mind. An impressive IP57-rating (the former number represents resistance to dust and the latter water) makes them extremely water- and sweat-proof (tick), and battery life is an equally impressive 7.5 hours (another tick).
HearThrough technology allows you to adjust the amount of outside noise the earbuds let in (helpful when running alone or near moving vehicles) and – and this is cool – MySound technology enables users to tailor audio experience to their hearing profile. The earbuds come with three sets of eargels to cater to most ear shapes and sizes.
Expedition Lätt Hoodie
For hiking and cycling on particularly chilly days, Fjӓllrӓven’s Expedition Lätt Hoodie has you covered (quite literally). It’s a lightweight mid-layer with recycled, synthetic fill which provides all the puffiness of down, minus the animal products.
A PFC-free, water-repellent coating means it can hack a little drizzle, but it’s best zipped under a waterproof layer for outings during heavy downpours. We love how cosy and cocooning it feels when worn, and it wins extra points for being so compact that it can be packed into its internal pocket and popped into a backpack when the weather changes.
It comes in three colours and is available in women’s sizes XXS-XL and men’s sizes XS-XXL.
Revel IV Mid Polar Hiking Boots
If hiking is your outdoor activity of choice, you can’t go wrong with the Revel IV Polar boots. Built to endure even extreme winter escapades, they’re solid and super warm. Keen likens the 200g of insulation to a puffy coat, and we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
A KEEN.POLAR Traction outsole helps you swerve that awful, stomach-lurching feeling by providing extra grip on slippery surfaces, whilst the upper benefits from a non-toxic water repellent. Keen also wins a pat on the back for using recycled P.E.T plastic to construct the mesh collar, tongue and tongue gusset.
They’re available in women’s sizes 2.5-9 and men’s 6-14.
Luxe Bamboo Neck Tube
BAM’s Luxe Bamboo Neck Tube is the addition your outdoor winter ensemble needs when there’s a nip in the air. It’s made of a bamboo mix, so it’s unbelievably soft (like can’t-all-of-my-clothes-feel-like-this, kind of soft), as well as being moisture-wicking and insulating.
It has a cylindrical shape, which can be bunched up for maximum snugness around the neck or can be pulled up to provide warmth to the face and nose. One size fits all. We recommend checking out the Bamboo Headband to protect ears too.
Fitbit Charge 4
Trackers aren’t the be-all and end-all of training and we recommend taking their findings (looking at you, calorie count) with a pinch of salt. However, if counting your steps and seeing exercise stats helps you to feel motivated, then the Fitbit Charge 4 should do the trick. Reasonably priced, it provides everything you’ll need. It’s water-resistant, has a GPS to help you navigate new routes, and offers guided breathing sessions too, which we’re into.
Infrared Fleece Gloves
Kymira Sport’s fleece gloves are made from KYnergy infrared fabric, which is said to boost circulation and improve temperature regulation, and feature touch-capacitive fingertips on the forefinger and thumb for use with touchscreens.
Silicon microdots are peppered across the palm and underside of the fingers for grip, and an extended wrist, which should be tucked into a base layer for best results, prevents any exposed skin from the elements. Available in five sizes, they can also be used as a liner beneath thicker mitts if you’re particularly sensitive to the cold.