Cold weather can be a real drag. Freezing temperatures, bitter wind-chill factors, even frostbite can take their toll on health, motivation and productivity.
Here are some tips to keep you warm and well all winter long.
The temperature of each body part is directly related to blood flow to that area. When the outside temperature drops your body automatically directs blood vessels near the surface of the skin to constrict in order to redirect blood flow toward vital internal organs like the heart and brain. It is the body’s way of keeping vital organs warm and working. Hands and feet, which have many blood vessels at the skin’s surface, are particularly sensitive to this process and lose alot of warming blood as a result.
Eat to Heat
Eating is another antidote to cold, since the digestion proocess produces heat. Choose something hot. Although the amount of actual heat ingested is small, hot foods and beverages give the nervous system a warmth signal that encourages blood flow to the extremities. Spicy foods will also do this.
While hot coffee and tea may seem like perfect warmer-uppers, caffeine actually constricts blood vessels, making extremities colder. Alcohol is another poor choice when you’re chilled. Alcohol is dehydrating and may supress shivering, the involuntary muscle contractions through which the body warms itself. Tobacco also constricts blood vessels and acts to cool the body.
Air trapped between layers of clothes insulates better than a single heavy garment. Here are the basics.
Start with an undershirt or long johns in fabrics which trap body heat and wick moisture away from skin. Socks should be made of wool or wick-dry synthetics like Coolmax.
Wear long-sleeved cotton denim or flannel shirts which allow moisture to evaporate.
Pants and vests made of wool keep body core warm without bulk. Waterproof boots with felt liners or other insulation keep feet dry and warm.
Choose coats and jackets with fleece linings and outer shells made of wind and water-resistant nylon. Fleece is the fabric favored by professional skiers and mountain climbers because it retains natural body warmth even when wet and has a very high “warmth to weight” ratio making it effective without being bulky.
Hats and neck warmers go a long way in keeping the entire body warm, since we lose more than half our body heat from our heads.