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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good idea! Report
Sounds interesting. Thanks for the info. I have a ton of thin long sleeve shirts already though so I will probably stick with those. I don't mind hiking up my sleeves when I get a little warm but generally its my torso that's hot and not my arms! Good product though!
~Ang Report
I seriously need to get me some of them! I do not run in the winter for that exact reason...I hate jackets and refuse to freeze! glad to to know! Report
I own arm warmers. I wear them occasionally Report
Thanks for the information Nic. I also enjoyed the other posted comments and suggestions. Report
WOW...this came up at the appropriate time. I think I spend more time trying to figure out WHAT I'm going to wear at this time of year for the exact reasons you gave. I didn't know about arm warmers. We only have one local sports store. I'll check them out. But if they don't have them, I will definitely go on-line and find some!!

This is so awesome! Please continue to keep "us newcomers" informed.

My best piece of workout clothing so far was just purchased. It is a long-sleeved "runners' shirt". The wrists are EXTREMELY tight, tighter than anything I've ever had. No air will go up those sleeves. BUT, as you said, with the arm warmers, you can roll them up or down. The sleeves on this shirt are so tight, they're NOT going anywhere - so it will be for colder weather.

i love my arm warmers. mine are from lululemon. i can't even explain why i love them. my husband just asks me why don't i wear a long sleeve shirt instead? i don't know either lol. love them though. Report
Interesting! I'm in the NW where by the time it's cool, it's usually raining. I end up with a waterproof/breathable & very vented jacket over a T. But arm warmers sound worth remembering. Thanks! Report
um, i used to wear arm warmers all the time in high school and college - back in the early 2000's. i wonder if i still have them...

also something i used to do was use tights that either didn't fit or had a hole in them and cut off the legs and put thumb holes on them. worked well! also did that with tall toe socks. Report
So, can somebody (a non-tiny somebody :) tell me if one size really does fit all? Report
I've had them for years and wear them when starting out on a bike in the morning. When the chill in the air eases then they come off. There are also bolero style arms (for chill and for sunscreen) that you can use and then you can't loose one of the arms. Report
I definitely want arm and leg warmers in my stocking, but I will have to probably buy them to use before Turkey day! Report
When it started getting cold here a few weeks ago, I realized that my long-sleeve shirt and long running pants were *almost* enough. My torso stays really warm of course, but my arms were a little cold. When I put a jacket on just to make my arms warmer, I feel like I'm instantly overheating; when I leave the jacket off my arms just never quite warm up. I started thinking, "I wish I had saved my 80s leg warmers!" because I thought they'd be perfect to put over my long sleeves. Then I started thinking, "I bet someone besides me needs this. I bet this exists somewhere." So I googled and was introduced, just two short weeks ago, to the world of arm warmers. How funny to see them featured here so soon afterward! Report
I have never used arm warmers, but want to get a pair. They will work good with my running attire. Thanks for sharing this idea! Report
Coach Nancy looks cute in her arm warmers. Great idea. Report
I've had cold forearms while running recently, so was looking at arm warmers. Didn't find a pair that I liked in any of the stores, but my wife made me a pair, custom fit to my arms, and they work great! I'm giving her a hard time, however, that she's going to have to make me a second pair in black with yellow go faster stripes to match my vest and tights! Report
I was just reading a travel magazine and they suggested arm warmers as a good way to pack light but have layers. So many reasons to get them...I'm going to have to get a pair. Report
I have 2 pairs and I like the black ones without thumb holes best. My other pair are peacock blue lululemon that go with pretty much nothing in my running wardrobe except black short sleeves. Report
For those who cannot afford...grab a pair of tube socks!! Report
I used to work in the cold and I just took the toes out of my H tube socks that worked fine for me. Report
I have a race this weekend and was totally thinking about buying a pair to help with this awkward weather transition we are in! Report
I LOVE my arm warmers!! Report
I bought my first arm warmers a few months ago, getting ready for fall. I plan to use them for gardening in addition to my walks. I donate platelets every month and wear one during the donation process to keep the alarm from going off on the machine. It is a lot more comfortable than having a heating pad on my arm! Report
Thanks! With my first half marathon this Sunday, I'm going to run out to the sports store and buy a pair - I was worried about how to layer and this sounds perfect! Report
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