Walking Guide

What to Wear When You Walk

Rain or shine, warm or cold, walking outside can be a year-round activity. But before you head out, you’ll want to make sure you are dressed for the elements. It can be a very uncomfortable walk if you don’t have on the right gear! Here are some tips to help you stay cool, dry and comfortable, no matter what Mother Nature throws at you!

Feet First
Next to shoes, socks can be your most important piece of walking gear. Choose socks that are made of a breathable material. Again, you want your feet to stay dry, so cotton isn't usually the best choice. High-performance socks, including wool, can help with comfort, breathability and blister prevention. Steer away from thin socks, which might not provide enough cushioning. A thick sock might be better—just make sure it's not so thick that your shoes fit too tightly.

Your feet are your foundation, so shoes are very important ! They strike the ground thousands of times during every walk, and every step you take affects every joint in your body. The right walking shoe will provide cushioning that reduces the impact when your foot strikes the ground, as well as support for the ankles, which helps you avoid injury. Look for walking-specific shoes that are lightweight, breathable, have a thick, flexible sole and good arch support. After you've found the right shoe, keep track of the number of miles you walk. One pair of walking shoes should last about 300-600 miles, assuming you only wear them for walking and not other activities. For more tips on buying the right shoe, click here.

Bring on the Layers
At certain times of the year, you'll need more layers. Layering is great because it keeps your body temperature comfortable. It allows you to add layers (to stay warm as needed) and remove layers (to cool off) at any time. In general, these three layers will keep you comfortable in most conditions:
  1. A base layer should be light and breathable. Choose a high-performance fabric that will draw sweat away from the skin so it can evaporate and cool you without making you feel wet. Stay away from cottons, as they retain moisture (sweat), which can keep you cold in the winter and hot in the summer. A good cold-weather material is polypropylene; in warm weather, wicking clothing like CoolMax or Dri-FIT works well.
     
  2. An insulating layer goes on top of your base layer. It adds warmth and provides temperature control. This layer should be easy to remove in case you get too warm.
     
  3. A protective outer layer goes on top of your insulating layer to protect you from elements like wind, rain, and snow. Choose waterproof fabrics that are made of breathable materials (so your sweat can evaporate).
Last but Not Least
With so much focus on your feet and body, don't neglect these other parts! A ventilated and/or brimmed hat can protect your head from the sun during the summer. A winter hat will help regulate your body temperature, since one quarter of your body heat escapes through your head. Gloves also help regulate your body temperature. And lastly, be sure to protect your skin (and eyes) from damaging rays. If you'll be outside longer than 15 minutes, you should wear sunscreen, even in the winter. Sunglasses are a good idea, too.

Following these tips should keep you outside comfortably all year long!
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Member Comments

great advice Report
Excellent article. Report
Excellent share...Thanx! Report
I need tips for protection from the Miami rain. Report
I learned how to dress when I lived in Minnesota during the winters - silk, cotton, wool in those layers. Stayed warm when I need and took layers off when I didn't. Report
I am in the smaller group (I an not the only one in my family either) that need to look for cotton and stay away from synthetics because we react to synthetics and develop rashes. It has been getting harder these last few years to find 100% cotton. Report
Thanks for the tips. Rain, shine, sleet or snow, I have running gear for all seasons1 Report
TERRIC853
Great tips! Thank you! Report
Great tips. Report
This was helpful to me! Report
Thank You for a great article. Report
Good article and good need-to-know information, thanks! Report
Under 3 layer from head to toe, the only part that was seen was my eyes. Very cold but I still worked up a sweat. Found out I really enjoyed the walk. Report
thanks for sharing... Report
CHRISTOPHER63
Good advice Report
Walking Guide

About The Author

Jen Mueller
Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist, behavior change specialist and functional training specialist. She is also a RRCA-certified running coach. See all of Jen's articles.
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