Gear Up: The $10 Fitness Accessory You Need for Spring and Fall

By , SparkPeople Blogger
New workout gadgets and exercise clothes are big motivators for me, not just because they help me feel excited about exercising day after day, but also because having the right gear is important for any exerciser. When you have the right clothing, equipment and accessories for fitness, other things that would normally keep you from working out (like bad weather) aren't viable excuses any longer.

Last year when I started to get serious about running year round (read: snow, rain and extreme temperatures), I had to add to my wardrobe: fleece pants and jackets, running tights, a wind- and rain-proof hat and jacket. While all of these items ran the gamut in cost (who knew a pair of tights alone could cost upwards of $50?!), one new item I bought was dirt cheap in comparison—and interestingly, one of the best investments I've made so far.

I'm talking about arm warmers (sometimes called arm sleeves). Runners and cyclists tend to be most familiar with arm warmers, which are exactly as they sound. They're basically stretchy "sleeves," much like the leg warmers that became super popular in the '80s workout craze. While leg warmers originated as a functional wardrobe piece among dancers, they later became a fashion trend. Actually, arm warmers are following a similar path. Although practical wardrobe pieces for exercisers and athletes, I'm seeing them more and more as fashion accessories.

They may seem silly, and they may look strange to some people, but boy do they work. In the spring and fall, when temperatures are just beyond your comfort zone, arm warmers start to make their way out of closets and back onto the arms of runners, walkers, cyclists and other outdoor exercisers. Why? Because they really do work!

I use arm warmers mostly in the fall, when the temperature hovers around 45 or 55 degrees Fahrenheit. It's that awkward temperature where you're not sure what to wear outdoors. Long sleeves get too hot. Jackets get WAY too hot. And yet tank tops and short-sleeved garments from summer aren't enough. This is the arm warmer's place. You wear them with short sleeves or sleeveless tops, typically, and they provide just enough warmth without overheating you. But even if you do get hot, you can roll them down, roll them up, or easily remove them mid-stride and stuff them into your pocket (or if you're like me, the waistband of your pants). If you happen to get chilly again, pull them out and put them back on. It's that simple!

Coach Nancy sporting her arm warmers before the Chicago Marathon.

Like most workout clothes and accessories, arm warmers come in a variety of styles (colors, patterns, and lengths), brands, and materials (wool, wicking fabrics, cotton, polyester). Most arm warmers I have seen come in one size fits all. You can buy them online, at most general sporting goods stores, and at specialty running and biking stores, too. I bought black Asics arm warmers last year for less than $10 at my local running store, and I've gotten by with this single pair for more than a year. Other brands and styles may cost $20-$30 or more, but there seems to be something for every price range.

While arm warmers might get slightly sweaty after a single use, they dry out quickly when hung up without getting stinky, which saves money and laundry time since you don't have to buy many or wash them often. And when you're ready to, you can just throw them in the laundry with your regular load—easy. Plus by investing in arm warmers, I can wear my summer workout clothes longer and I don't need to buy new "transitional" clothes (not too hot, not too cold) for fall or spring. Arm warmers are a great piece to add to your workout wardrobe—maybe even your holiday gift list!

Do you use (or want to try) arm warmers? What do you think of them? What piece of your own workout wardrobe has been your best investment so far?

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Awesome, I looked on Amazon and they have them for even less. I might check them out! Report
I would like to try and see how they work for me. I'm willing to pay $10.00 to $15.00 dollars for a Pair. God Blessings to Everyone. Have a Wonderful Week. Take Care. Report
Great tip! My daughter is going to run her first 1/2 marathon on Thanksgiving morning. This will be the perfect addition to her wardrobe for the race and as she prepares for it. Report
I really want a pair, although my local running store sells them for $30, and I'm not sure I want to spend that much right now. Report
I love mine! Report
Something I could use! Good idea! Thanks for the info Report
I would like these with leg warmers. Report
I would like these with leg warmers. Report
When I did my first Tri. I seen alot of the women with these although at that time I later found out were for sun protection but I have seen the winter ones and can't wait to get me a few in different colors. Cool stuff, loved the asics website. They have a cool cap with lights on the visor that I can't wait to get. Report
I used my arm warmers for the first time in a Half yesterday - they were perfect to take the chill off at the start and as I warmed up I just pushed them down around my wrists. I was afraid it would be annoying but wasn't at all. Highly recommend! Report
Arm warmers. Wow.

Living if Florida, my family can certainly use something like this. At this time of the year, my daughter leaves for school in a heavy sweatshirt over a t-shirt over a tank top and comes home in just the tank top... usually with the warmer clothes forgotten at school, meaning she won't have them for the next morning. Arm warmers just might help stop that foolishness. I can certainly see me using them, too, and not just for when I go out to walk in the mornings.

awesome, I've not seen these before - I love riding my bike, but just as you said, its starting to get chilly. A couple days ago I chose to wear a jacket and about the 5 mile mark, I was getting sweaty... the day before that I chose not to wear a jacket and was too chilly...

I will definetly have to check into getting these for my husband and I (he's been battling the same issues as I have) Report
As a cyclist I use these regularly - it's surprising what a difference they makes. Cycling jerseys have pockets in the back, so they're easily stashed when you warm upl Report
I saw these on some marathon runners recently, but for the rest of their workout clothes they were wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts (so I didn't think they were arm warmers because they didn't look cold otherwise!) I'm always cold when I run this time of year so this seem like a great purchase. Report
So what do you do when you get hot and need to take the arm warmers off, since that is presumably the idea?? Where do you put them while you are runnning? Report
Hmm, I defnitely can relate to the fall quandry between short and long sleeve. I may have to try these. Thanks for the tip! Report
Want some!! Report
Um isn't this what long sleeve shirts were made for? I'll stick with my long sleeve t-shirts or sweatshirts. Report
Sounds like something I could use. Thanks for the idea! Report
Looking good, Nancy! I need a pair! Hope they come in plus sizes! Report
I am repairing for my first 5K thanks for the great advice. Report
Thanks! I will get some this week for my race :) Report
I saw these for the first time yesterday at my school's 5K race. It was chilly and I opted for a sleeveless shirt with a light jacket. I would have loved to have had some arm warmers. They are definitely on my shopping list now. Report
And will ya look at our Sparklin' Nancy, rockin' those arm-warmers? There's another application for these, too, Nicole - they'd probably feel great on older wrists like mine in the winter, especially when just sitting around knitting, or watching TV :) Report
What a great idea! I always get too warm in long sleeves by the time I'm a mile into my walk but it is SO cold during the first mile while I'm trying to warm up! These are the perfect way to to stay comfortable! Thank- you Report
Thanks for the idea! I will crochet some! Report
Wow! We'd never heard of these, but they sound perfect. And thanks so much for the link to the Asics ones - we bought 2 pair so that hubby and I both have them for the Turkey Trot 5K we'll be doing on thanksgiving morning! Yay! :-) Report
I wish I had a nose warmer............that part gets way colder and stays cold longer than the arms, but, arm warmer's would have their place. Report
I have never heard of them (or seen them for that matter) in Canada. If its that cold I wear long sleeves.
I'm a cyclist. I used to own and wear arm warmers, but found that if I needed arm warmers, then I probably also wanted something for my head. That's one difference between running and cycling - cycling produces a "wind", so you need to dress much warmer than for running. Now I have a middle layer that has a stretchy hood (important for cyclists because it can be taken off easily while cycling) and arms. My husband, however, has the arm warmers and uses them frequently. Report
This is such a great idea. thanks for sharing. Report
Love it! I need to get myself a pair for running and biking. My arms were very cold today on my bike ride. Report
What a great idea!! Now, why didn't I think of that??!! Report
Interesting idea, but not for me. I need lots of pockets when I walk...for keys, radio, pedometer, tissues, etc. Report
think for my daughter this would be ideal . she runs walks and enjoys it all . myself i think just to do it is a big deal . Report
I had never heard of arm warmers before, but they sure do seem like an ideal solution for those "in between" times of year. I usually end up tying my sweater or jacket around my waist when I get too hot, but this sounds like a better solution. Thanks!

Love your picture! Report
Aw man, I definitely saw this too late. Here in VT, the temperatures are closer to winter ranges already, so these wouldn't do me much good until April! Bummer, because I can definitely see myself using them. Report
Thanks for the information! I just saw some C9 brand arm warmers along with other running accessories like neck gaitors, balaclavas, running gloves, etc in the men's department of Target. (All would fit women, too!) Arm warmers sound like a good transitional piece that could save me money. Report
They sound great. I haven't seen them, but probably will now that I am aware. I just wear long sleeve sweatshirts with a vest over it. I probably won't buy them. My greatest cold weather clothing gear is ear muffs. I would like a neck warmer (I don't know their official name, my husband calls them "gators"); it is just a tube to pull over your head; it goes around your neck and you can pull it up over your nose and mouth. My nose is the coldest. Report
What a great idea, thanks. I could have really used them last night with temp in the low 50's and cold wind, but got too hot in my jacket. And I love the ideas about recycling old socks. Thanks. Report
When I was a child in Germany, my mother used to take socks that could not be darned anymore; cut off the feet, trim the edge, and give them to me as "wrist warmers" or "pulse warmers." They did a great job keeping my hands warm while skiing. I did not like to wear gloves since my hands would get very sweaty inside the gloves. Note, this might also work for someone whose hands are always cold for any reason. Report
This is what I will buy my husband, who is a big biker! Report
For me this is where the long sleeved t-shirt comes in. . .
No arm warmers for me. Report
This is why I love Spark! I'm learn something new every day! I will definitely have to look for these because having to tie a light jacket around my waist has always been a pain. Report
OK, you've convinced me. I need a pair of arm warmers! Report
My running shoes let me walk or run, without a lot of foot pain. I can wear anything else, in my wardrobe, it doesn't have to be workout gear. But without the right shoes, I could do nothing but use my stationary bike. Report
Arm warmers sound great. I like the idea of home made ones. My best investment has been my running shoes. Report
I've never used arm warmers, but I do love exercise gadgets. I think maybe because I live in a warmer climate (Phoenix), I have never considered using arm warmers. But I do hike and run in the cooler climates now and then -- I think I'll need to give them a try! Report
Having arm warmers are great!! Report
I had to laugh when I read this blog: I have been using my own cut-offs for years just to rake leaves or shovel snow!! I just cut off the sleeves of old turtlenecks, stretch pants or stretchy nighties, whatever, and slip them on with A tee shirt! I also bought reflective tape to put on the sides of them for darker days and nights..
When I get warm, I just slide them in my pocket, on my belt loop or under my hat!!

I wonder if somebody else did the same thing and decided to capitalize on those long sleeve cast-offs!!LOL! I have been doing this for over thirty years!! Maybe we should get Spark-recyclers gong and re-use our old shirt sleeves!! I do! Report
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