Regular exercise all year long is best for your health and wellness, and particularly in the winter — when you’re maybe more likely to experience a drop in mood — staying active can help improve your mental health and energy, too.

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“You’ll be fine if you can manage the big three outdoor winter workout concerns: overextended exposure to cold temperatures, wind chill levels, and moisture,” says Mark Koester, a National Association of Sports Medicine–certified corrective exercise specialist and director of fitness at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.

Be aware, however, there are a few risks associated with exercising in colder weather for individuals with certain preexisting conditions for which overexertion in cold temperatures could exacerbate symptoms (such conditions include asthma and heart problems). If you have one of these or another chronic health problem that might interfere with outdoor exercise in the cold, Koester suggests asking your physician.

Here’s something else to keep in mind: It’s not just snow or ice or the temperature on the thermometer that you need to be concerned about. Wind chill is a serious winter weather factor that can make the actual temperature feel significantly lower.

“Wind chill levels are, in most cases, more important than the actual temperature,” says Koester. “As wind levels pick up, they can penetrate your clothing and remove the insulating layer of warmth that gets generated by your body through exercise.”

So, when it comes to getting outside for a workout in cold weather, one of the smartest things you can do (aside from placing a limit on the amount of time spent exercising outdoors) to overcome those challenges is to dress appropriately for the weather. Here’s what you should know about what to wear to exercise in the cold, and when you should stay indoors.

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