Home>Health and Wellness>Health>How Cold is Too Cold for Running Shorts? An Insight into Weather and Running Gear

How Cold is Too Cold for Running Shorts? An Insight into Weather and Running Gear How Cold is Too Cold for Running Shorts? An Insight into Weather and Running Gear


How Cold is Too Cold for Running Shorts? An Insight into Weather and Running Gear

Gain insights into how cold is too cold for running shorts. Explore the relationship between weather and running gear and gain practical tips for adapting your running attire based on the temperature and weather conditions.

Runners are a resilient bunch, often braving harsh elements to maintain their training regimen. However, cold weather can pose a real challenge, especially when deciding what to wear. A common query that arises during winter months is, “How cold is too cold for running shorts?” In this article, we aim to answer this question, taking into consideration factors like personal comfort, safety, and performance.

The Science Behind Cold Weather Running

To address the main question, let’s first understand the science behind our body’s response to running in cold weather.

When you run, your body generates heat and starts to sweat. In cold weather, this sweat can make you feel even colder, and if the temperature drops too low, it can lead to hypothermia. Therefore, choosing the right attire is essential for cold weather running.

When are Running Shorts Suitable?

Running shorts are a popular choice among runners due to their comfort and the freedom of movement they offer. Here are some factors that can help you decide whether it’s an appropriate time for running shorts:

  1. Temperature: As a general rule, if the temperature is above 50°F (10°C), running shorts should be a safe option.
  2. Personal Preference: Some runners can tolerate colder temperatures better than others. If you’re used to cold weather and feel comfortable, you might opt for shorts even when the temperature drops below 50°F.
  3. Sunlight and Wind: Consider the time of day and wind chill. The perceived temperature can be lower due to wind chill, and lack of sunlight can make it feel colder.
  4. Length of Run: If you’re going for a quick run, shorts might be fine. But for long runs, you might get too cold and should consider wearing tights or long pants.

Transitioning from Shorts to Tights

If you decide that it’s too cold for running shorts, your next best option is likely running tights. Here’s why:

  1. Warmth: Tights are designed to retain body heat, keeping you warm during your run.
  2. Protection: They protect your entire leg from the cold wind, which can lower the risk of frostbite in extreme conditions.
  3. Compression: Many running tights offer compression, which can enhance performance and recovery.

Remember, while transitioning from shorts to tights, choose a pair that fits well and doesn’t restrict your movement. Poor-fitting running attire can hamper your performance and comfort.


So, how cold is too cold for running shorts? It depends on various factors, including the actual temperature, wind chill, sunlight, your tolerance to cold, and the length of your run. Generally, when the temperature falls below 50°F, you might want to consider swapping your shorts for tights or long pants. But ultimately, your comfort and safety should be the guiding factors.

Running is a personal journey. It’s all about knowing your body, understanding your comfort level, and making the right decisions to ensure an enjoyable and safe running experience, no matter the weather.


How cold is too cold for running shorts?

While it depends on personal preference, generally, if the temperature is above 50°F (10°C), running shorts should be a safe option. Consider other factors like wind chill, sunlight, and the length of your run.

Can I wear running shorts in snow?

It’s possible if you’re comfortable and the run is short. However, it’s usually better to opt for tights or long pants to protect your legs from the cold and potential frostbite.

What should I wear for running when it’s cold?

Apart from swapping shorts for tights, wear layers on your upper body. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add an insulating middle layer, and top with a wind-resistant outer layer. Don’t forget a hat and gloves.

Can I get sick from running in the cold?

You won’t get sick from merely running in the cold. However, if you’re not dressed appropriately, prolonged exposure to cold can lead to hypothermia.

Is running in the cold bad for your lungs?

For most people, running in the cold isn’t harmful to the lungs. However, if you have asthma or other respiratory conditions, consult a doctor before running in cold weather.