Let’s face it: winter is hectic — that’s the season you’ll find everyone doing whatever possible just to stay warm. Whether its wearing a jacket, drinking a mug of hot cocoa, or reading a book next to the chimney, you don’t want to freeze. Fortunately enough, the process your body uses to break down food serves as an internal heater. Learning about your body’s thermostat could help you stay warm for long during the winter. Here are a few tips on how you’re to stay warm, according to physiologists.
Related media: Keeping Warm In Winter
Winter Is Here!
Of course, your body has some natural defensive strategies for staying warm; as the temperature difference between your body and the freezing environment changes, your body tends to lose heat rapidly. This becomes a challenge for your body to maintain the normal body temperature; and two people with the same exact body temperature in the same exact environment may have very different perceptions — one might be comfortable while the other has a windchill.
These natural physiological responses can help maintain your body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) which keeps you warm. Your blood carries nutrients, oxygen, and other molecules through your body; your circulatory system also produces heat in your muscles to your skin, and gets released. As you experience cold, your body circulates blood to your torso, which helps maintain the warmth of your vital organs.
Meanwhile, your body constricts blood flow to the skin, narrows the paths of your skin, which means less heat escapes your body. This minimizes your blood flow to your skin — which happens to be closer to the cold — and thus hold on to more of your body’s internal thermostat. Another heating strategy your body deploys is cranking up muscular activity, which in turn increases your metabolism and creates more heat.
Imagine taking a brisk walk in the cold, then suddenly, your teeth chatter and your body shivers — this increases body temperature by breaking down more nutrients to keep your internal organs heated. However, differences in body mass, fat, and metabolism activity influence how you perceive cold. Low mass individuals lose more heat than people with more body fat; but a muscular person tends to produce more heat — which functions as an insulator to reduce heat loss.
What You Should Do Instead
Obviously, you can stay warm by the clothes you wear, your activities, and the foods you tend to eat.
(Fun fact: Eskimos eat foods rich with protein and fat, in order to build up muscle and mass to help them stay warmer).
However, most people tend to wear a coat, hat, scarf, and gloves to stay warm. Good choice! Piling up the layers underneath your skin means you keep the heat from dispersing to the surrounding environment. Contrary to this myth, the head isn’t a greater source of heat loss than other parts of the body. Spoiler: No! Let’s say you wear a warm hat with no coat, your torso would let you lose more heat, because of how your body circulates blood; whereas if you’d kept your torso warm, you’d maintain blood flow to your limbs, and keep them warm.
Moreover, doing a physical activity causes your muscles to contract, break down more nutrients, and produce more heat — this additional heat helps keep your body warm. You’ve probably experienced this if you’ve ever done a set of jumping jacks while in the brisk cold. But unfortunately, warm clothing coupled with physical activity can account for even greater heat loss. If that’s the case, you’ll suddenly increase body temperature as you begin to sweat as a result. This is how your body tends to cool down, which will even lead to greater heat loss.
You Better Eat Well As Well
Last but not least, eating can also increase the heat of your body, too. As explained by Albert Einstein, energy equals mass, and the more you consume (food which is mass), the more energy you’ll get, thus more heat. So you need those extra calories, badly! The process of breaking down food is going to slightly increase body temperature. Most campers even take a snap before bed just to help them stay warm as they slumber. Your body’s metabolic impact on a small snack seems insignificant, but there is a difference between heat balance.
You also urinate quite a lot — a process physicians term as cold diuresis. This is the side effect of your constricting blood vessels which results in an increase in blood pressure as your blood can’t flow freely. And if you happen to wear your coat while indoors, you gotta watch out. Your skin tend to dissipate that excess heat inside — worst of all, you’ll begin to sweat. When you go out again, you might even feel colder than before, as the cold air saps the heat from your skin as your sweat evaporates.
To stay warm, dress appropriately, whether you’re indoors or outdoors this winter.
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Sun, Jul 07, 2019.