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Layer Up

You may be tempted to throw on your heaviest fleece for that outdoor run, but it's better to wear several thin layers, says Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D., the chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise. "You'll trap and warm the air between each layer for an insulating effect," he says. The outer layer should repel wind and precipitation , while the inner layers should provide warmth. For inner layers, stick with sweat-wicking fabrics like polyester and wool instead of cotton, which soaks up moisture. "Your body loses heat four times faster when exposed to water," Bryant says; this can rapidly lead to hypothermia. (We've got the perfect head-to-toe picks for layering in our Ultimate Cold-Weather Gear Guide.) As you warm up, you can fine-tune your comfort level by peeling off layers.

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Factor In the Wind and the Wet

Did a quick temperature check before heading out? Now double-check the forecast for the windchill and the chance of rain. Forty degrees may not sound so cold, but when you add wind and moisture, it can be frigid—and require either more layers or a shorter jaunt. According to the National Weather Service, frostbite can even develop when skin is exposed to 40-degree temperatures if there are 20-mile-per-hour winds for 30 minutes.

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7 Smart Stay-Warm Tricks

You could retreat to the climate control of your gym this winter, but if you brave the same workouts outdoors, science says that you'll end up with a better body. For starters, you'll boost your metabolism the minute you step outside: When you exercise in temperatures below 64 degrees, you increase the amount of calories you burn, according to a study at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. That's because chilly temps trigger something called nonshivering thermogenesis. This means that your body isn't so cold that it's shivering, but behind the scenes, it's stoking the metabolism fire to keep you warm. (But How Cold Is Too Cold to Run Outdoors?)

You'll also torch more fat. Several studies point to the effect of cold on brown adipose tissue (brown fat), whose main job is to keep you warm. Expose your body to cold, and you'll activate brown fat, which changes unhealthy white fat that collects around your belly, butt, and hips into beige fat, allowing it to burn calories for heat.

Researchers at Northern Arizona University also discovered in an animal study that training in cold weather for a few months increases your VO2 max (a measure of how fit you are) and running speed. "For most exercise situations, cold is safer and more accommodating than the summer's heat," explains Bill Brewer, the director of exercise science at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. "And it lets people work harder and longer."

Best of all, you can get these benefits without feeling as if you're a snowman throughout your session. Here's how to keep comfortable so you can focus on getting a killer workout. (Are you a runner? Try these Cold Weather Running Tips from Elite Marathoners.)

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The #1 Food You Need to Eat to Burn Fat and Build Muscle

You know you need to cut calories to lose weight (duh), but dropping pounds usually means not just losing fat, but losing metabolically valuable muscle too. (Muscle torches calories, so the less muscle you have, the harder it is to lose weight, often resulting in a weight-loss plateau.) But the secret to both losing weight and boosting your metabolism may be sitting in your refrigerator, says a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

When It's OK to Quit Your New Year's Resolutions

As much as we love crushing our goals, we have to confess: There might be a few New Year's resolutions that keep going unfulfilled year after year (no, we still haven't actually gotten into the habit of making our beds every morning). For many of us, that list can get a little repetitive year after year: floss, get a six-pack, eat better, get to bed before 11 p.m., etc. Somehow, we still find ourselves coming up short.