Some say the best temperature to run outside is a matter of preference.
Although I'm sure your friends could argue all day long what the perfect outdoor temperature is for you, studies show that endurance runners are most efficient at running in temperatures between 36 and 52 degrees Fahrenheit. These are the exercise temperatures where your body can most efficiently bring oxygen to your muscles, without making a detour to help cool down or warm up your body.
Surprised? Let's take a look at how your body works.
How do temperatures effect running or exercise performance?
When the your body becomes too warm during exercise, part of your energy is spent cooling your body. Increased blood flow helps shed the excess heat by encouraging perspiration.
When your body temperature becomes too cold, blood flow becomes more centralized to keep internal organ temperatures regulated. This often leads to less oxygen in your extremities, including your legs and feet. Oxygen which, ideally, would be used for muscle movement, is used to keep your body temperature steady.
Bottom line, when temperatures are at the extremes, your body's number one goal is to regulate body temperature, not regulate your running pace.
But all that said, it doesn't mean that temperatures outside of the "perfect" range should curb your outdoor workouts. In fact, marathon runners have successfully trekked through the grueling Sahara Desert and icy Antarctica!
Just as it takes an acclimatization period to exercise at your full potential at high altitudes, the same goes for warm or cold temperatures. Running outdoors all season long will help curb the need for this acclimatization period. If you're hopping outside for a workout after a hiatus, listen to your body and be prepared. Luckily, outdoor exercisers have a plethora of really cool gear to protect them from the weather.
Sweat-wicking undergarments and base layers are the first line of defense in both cold and warm temperatures. Clothing that helps sweat evaporate more quickly (even when it is cold) will help regulate your body temperature. Rated SPF50 cooling shirts help protect your skin against the sun when it's warm. Wool and polypropylene layers along with gloves and hats can help keep you winter-proof during the harshest cold conditions.
Want more tips to stay safe while exercising outdoors in extreme weather conditions? Check out these 12 Tips to Weather Outdoor Workouts.