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Not everyone likes the idea of walking in the rain but it can help you avoid many missed workouts. Is it safe and how can it become more fun?
Even some of the most experienced walkers sometimes skip their workout sessions because of the rain. This is unfortunate because with some of the right habits and clothing walking in the rain can definitely be safe.
That being said there are also situations where it may be better to swap your walking sessions with a different workout.
Is it safe to walk in the rain?
The first obvious but important point is that rain does not always mean the same thing for everyone. There is a big difference between a few millimeters and an actual thunderstorm with lightning. If there is a thunderstorm going on you likely want to postpone your walk.
Another important aspect is the temperature outside. Water cools you down faster than air of the same temperature.
So walking in the rain at 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) will cool you down a lot faster than walking without rain at the same temperature if the rain can reach your skin.
If it is cold and raining going for a walk may increase your risk of getting sick. Make sure you wear suited clothing and other walking accessories to avoid this.
Walking in the rain will impair your vision of your walking surface at least a small amount. This makes it easier to take a wrong step, especially on uneven surfaces.
In short, walking in the rain can be both safe and unsafe depending on things like how hard it is raining, where you want to walk, and what gear you use. If you get sick and injured easily it may be smarter to search for alternatives to walking in the rain.
If it does not rain often where you live you may choose to give up one workout to avoid getting injured or sick which can lead to many more missed workouts.
If you live in a rainy area you can invest in a treadmill, gym subscription, do workouts at home, or invest in good gear for walking in the rain.
8 tips for walking in the rain
There are still many things that you can to do make your walk in the rain safer and more enjoyable.
1. Be visible
Walking in the rain does not only impair your own vision but also the vision of the people around you. Especially if you walk on roads these people are in vehicles like cars. You want to make sure you are visible to them.
To make sure this is the case you can get reflective walking gear which comes in the form of reflective vests and reflective straps. Workout clothes also often have reflective material built-in. You may also benefit from investing in a walking lamp both for being more visible and better being able to see where you walk.
2. Wear the right clothing
Just like for regular workouts, not all clothes are equally suited for walking in the rain. There are basically 2 main strategies you can follow with your clothing.
The first one is trying to make sure no rain at all is able to get through your clothing, to stay completely dry. This option is a lot more achievable with walking compared to running in the rain. The first strategy is usually more for colder temperatures where water can really cool you down and be uncomfortable.
If you choose this strategy you have to invest in a quality rain jacket, waterproof pants, waterproof shoes, waterproof socks, and maybe leg gaiters.
The second strategy is accepting that rain will get through. This strategy is more for warmer temperatures where you do not mind that rain lowering your temperature a bit. In some cases this may even be enjoyable.
If you choose this strategy you want to focus on wearing clothes that do not absorb too much water. Wearing a few extra pounds or kilograms in water is usually not comfortable. A fabric you want to avoid in your clothing (that includes socks) is cotton. On top of that, you may want a hat to keep water out of your eyes.
Another aspect of good clothing for walking in the rain is keeping you at the right temperature. As mentioned before cold rain will cool you down faster than air of the same temperature. This can mean wearing warmer clothes than you normally would when it doesn’t rain.
On the other hand, it is also possible to overdo it and wear too many layers which can lead to overheating. Finding the right walking clothing for the right weather circumstances may take some trial and error.
3. Prepare dry clothing for after the walk
Even if you wear great rain walking gear you may get at least a little wet. During your walking session you will produce heat to counteract this but once you stop walking your heat production will be a lot less. To stop the rain from cooling you down even more dry clothes will help.
This is especially relevant if you are walking or hiking somewhere remotely where you don’t have your entire wardrobe with you. As anyone who has ever walked in the rain can tell you, even just a pair of dry socks can make a big difference.
4. Protect your electronics
Although you can also walk without, having a piece of electronic equipment like a fitness tracker, walking watch, or your phone with you can be useful.
The devices more specialized for workouts are often waterproof but certainly in the case of your phone, you may want to invest in a waterproof phone holder.
If you plan on taking other things and provisions that need to stay dry, it may be smart to invest in a waterproof backpack.
5. Use the right shoes
Your choice of shoes can also make a big difference in both safety and comfort when walking, especially in the rain. First of all walking shoes with deeper groves will provide you with more grip and in turn, reduce the risk of slipping.
Especially if you plan to walk on uneven surfaces it may be worth it to invest in quality hiking shoes. These types of shoes are made to be more sturdy and offer more foot stability and protection.
There are waterproof walking shoes that can make sense in the right situation. The downside of these is that once water gets in them the water won’t be able to go out. So if you can avoid deep puddles during your walks waterproof walking shoes may be a good choice for you.
If your shoes get wet from the rain you can dry them after your walking session by putting pieces of newspaper in them.
6. Be prepared
You can not predict everything that can happen so it is smart to make choices that prepare you for a wide variety of events. Especially when walking in the rain, the risk of something happening inevitably increases.
For walking, this comes down to having a phone or anything else that you can use to contact help if needed. Other navigational tools like a compass or a fitness watch with GPS can be useful in certain situations too.
7. Consider changing up your schedule
You don’t have to do the exact same training as usual when it is raining. This applies to your walking surface, walking distance, and training speed.
Instead of choosing a forest trail, you may go walking on the streets (make sure you wear reflective gear). You may want to get in a workout at any cost, even if it is a lot shorter than your regular 3-mile walk.
In short, when the circumstances change it can make a lot of sense to change the details of your walking plan too.
8. Find a walking buddy
Finding a walking buddy can be helpful for 2 main reasons. First of all, if something happens to one of you two, the other person can get help if needed.
Secondly, it can be slightly harder to motivate yourself to walk in the rain compared to walking under clear skies. The accountability of having a walking buddy can help you push through anyway.
What to wear for walking in the rain
The right gear can really make walking in the rain a lot more comfortable and safer. Check out these pieces of walking equipment to see if it makes sense to invest in them.
- Walking rain jacket: The first and most straightforward equipment for walking in the rain is a walking rain jacket. Keep in mind that these can get very warm. (check online prices)
- Lightweight poncho: In case a rain jacket is too warm for you, you can also go for a lightweight poncho. Do keep in mind that these tend to be less waterproof than rain jackets. This makes them more suited for warmer temperatures. (check online prices)
- Waterproof walking shoes: Waterproof walking shoes are mostly if you know you can avoid getting any water in them. If water does get in waterproof walking shoes it will not be able to get out. That means a route with many puddles may not be suited for this type of shoes. (check online prices)
- Hiking shoes: Especially if you plan to walk on uneven surfaces in the rain it may be smart to invest in quality hiking shoes. This type of walking shoe is more sturdy, more stable, and more protective. A pair of good shoes can make the difference between being out for weeks with an injury and just sticking to your workout plan (check online prices)
- Waterproof walking pants: Most jackets only cover your upper body. In most situations, you also want to waterproof your legs and waterproof walking pants can help you with this. (check online prices)
- Quick-dry walking clothing: You may follow the strategy of accepting to get wet. Quick-dry clothing absorbs less water compared to other materials like cotton. This makes your walk more comfortable. (check online prices)
- Waterproof socks: Waterproof socks are helpful walking equipment for avoiding blisters and discomfort from having wet feet. Do keep in mind that these types of socks also tend to not breathe that well so you may want to avoid wearing them in warm weather. (check online prices)
- Leg gaiters: Especially if you wear waterproof shoes you may want to avoid water running down into your shoes. If this is the case leg gaiters may be the right equipment for you. (check online prices)
- Reflective gear: The rain will impair vision for both you and the people around you. Especially if you walk in areas with a lot of traffic you want to invest in reflective gear. It is a small investment for avoiding a possibly very negative event. (check online prices)
- Walking hat: The sensation of rain dripping off your forehead into your eyes is one most people like to avoid. Walking with a hat is an easy and inexpensive way to keep your eyes more protected from the rain. This piece of clothing mostly applies to the get-wet strategy. (check online prices)
- Umbrella: An umbrella is generally more useful for standing still than walking in the rain. However, you can definitely use one for walking too if the wind is not too strong. (check online prices)
- Waterproof headphones: Most headphones are not made for walking in the rain. If you like to listen to music while walking, waterproof headphones can be a great investment. (check online prices)
All in all, these are some relatively inexpensive ways to make your walks in bad weather a lot more comfortable and safe. Of course, some equipment will make more sense than others depending on a wide variety of factors.
Finally, you can also consider investing in a treadmill or gym subscription if you want to keep consistent with your walking plan but don’t want to walk in the rain.
Benefits of walking in the rain
Although increased air humidity is not necessarily a benefit of walking in the rain, there are some potential upsides (1).
One small study concluded that running in the rain in a cold environment may increase calorie burning (2). The same likely applies to walking in the rain.
A second potential benefit of walking in the rain over regular walking is that the air you breathe in may be cleaner (3). This is because raindrops can attract particles floating in the air which helps you breathe in less of these particles.
Some people also find walking in the rain to have a calming and destressing effect but this may be a subjective effect that does not apply to every individual.
The potential health benefits of walking in the rain are not the most well-researched topic. In any case, walking in the rain instead of skipping your exercise session and sitting still can certainly offer health benefits.