Have you noticed that it has started to get even colder lately. Every winter just like every chilly night our body is put to the test. The colder it is, the more internal heat you lose from your body. So how can you compensate for this heat loss? John Eric Smith, physiology professor from Mississippi State University gives some helpful advice.
What your body does
Our body is a complex machine which knows how to respond to stimuli. When temperatures start to drop, our blood circulation modifies. “The body encourages blood to be sent to the upper chest,” explains the researcher, “so as to bring enough oxygen and nutrients (which are transported by the blood) to our vital organs.” At the same time, there is less blood brought to your skin which is in direct contact with the cold environment so as to minimise heat loss. Thanks to this combination we are able to maintain our internal warmth longer.
A third defensive strategy used by the body involves “stimulating muscular activity“, continues the researcher. This is why you often chatter your teeth or tremble when it is cold. This involuntary use of certain muscles allows your metabolism to create heat which is then distributed around your body. However sometimes your body isn’t enough. When temperatures are really low you need to give your body a helping hand. What strategies should you adopt?
What you can do
In the first instance you should choose appropriate clothing like a thick coat, gloves and a scarf. These items will “not only keep you warm but they will prevent the heat produced by your body to escape,” explained John Eric Smith. Another important is “contrary to popular belief: your head is not the most significant place for heat loss which should be covered up properly.” As mentioned above your upper chest is the first place to be heated by your body so this is therefore the most important part of your body to keep warm.
As the researcher explains, ” if you keep you upper chest warm you will maintain blood circulation to your limbs which will keep you arms, legs, hands and feet warm.”
Other than wearing appropriate clothing, it is also very important to stay physically active. By keeping our muscles active, our body will break down more nutrients as explained above at the start of this article. Therefore this allows our body to generate more heat. Your body will sometimes start to move muscles on it’s own but sometimes your body needs a little nudge. Be careful not to overdo it. If too much heat is created, your body will sweat so as to get rid of excess heat. The problem, “is that the evaporation of sweat causes a greater heat loss,” warns the researcher. So you should move, but not too much either.
Lastly, it is also very important to eat. By breaking down ingested food, you body is going to produce extra heat. Eating won’t make a huge difference but it is still a good strategy to take into consideration. If you are cold and have something that you can eat to hand then you shouldn’t think twice. It could be the log that relights your internal heat source!