10 Tips for Developing a Greater Cold Tolerance
I came to Minnesota in the middle winter of 2018 with zero tolerance for cold. It was a drastic change and a great experience. Seeing the snow for the first time gave me great excitement. Learning to dress correctly was a huge challenge. However, each process I have enjoyed very much. Today I can say that I love winter, I like to do winter activities like winter hiking and cross country skiing.
I understand that thinking, imagining and living through winter can be overwhelming and can make us feel a little nervous. In Minnesota you never know how cold it can get. There is a lot of logic in this, since the human body is not designed for extreme temperatures or polar cold. It is even more drastic for us, Latinos, who come from countries with temperate and tropical climates where temperatures rarely drop below freezing.
However, since we are here in these lands with extreme temperatures, it is important to give it a try. We simply need to learn the risks and the proper ways to prepare in order to develop a greater tolerance for cold.
Below, we share 10 tips to develop a greater tolerance to cold and, in addition, do outdoor activities in cold environments in a safe and fun way.
1 Seek to acclimate your body
The best way to develop a greater tolerance to low temperatures is to expose yourself to the cold. Go outside for a couple of hours each day with the necessary items of clothing such as gloves, boots and hats since, in general, the extremities are the ones that get cold the fastest. Over time you will notice that you will start to wear fewer clothes, you will feel more comfortable, you will be able to spend more time outside and the low temperatures will affect you less.
2 Take cold showers
Honestly, this is not for me, but experts say that alternating between hot and cold water when you shower will help your body get used to rapid temperature changes, similar to when you’re outside.
3 Exercise frequently
Cardiovascular and resistance exercise several times a week helps your metabolism become more efficient at regulating body temperature, and your metabolism will stay in a healthy and active state. Also, by increasing your muscle mass it will help you stay warm on its own. With cardiovascular exercises, you improve the ability of your heart and lungs to circulate oxygen-rich blood, making your entire body work better. Also, maintain a good diet. During winter our body tends to burn more calories in its temperature regulation process.
4 Try new habits
As you try to adjust to the cold outside, you should also make an effort to acclimate to the cold inside. Turn down the thermostat. Dealing with a cold house is also a great way to save on heating costs.
5 Hide the blanket
The next time you feel cold and are tempted to cover yourself with a blanket, don’t. Instead, endure the cold and do something to take the cold out of your mind if necessary. The idea is to get away from the need to always cover yourself with something warm when it’s cold and instead learn to deal with it on your own.
6 Drink ice cold water
Drinking ice cold drinks lowers your internal temperature slightly, which will force your body’s adaptive responses to compensate for the change. Although most people turn to coffee or hot chocolate in the colder months to warm up, you should do the opposite. In addition to being a useful tool for building your cold tolerance, ice water is also free and can be found almost anywhere.
7 Prepare your mind
En lugar de pensar en el frío que sientes cuando estás afuera, concéntrate en la sensación de la temperatura real del ambiente. Por lo general hay una diferencia desoladora: no estás tan frío como crees y eso impacta en tu respuesta frente a él. Un truco mental para mantener las cosas en perspectiva es imaginar que hace más frío o recordar que hay personas que viven en lugares mucho más fríos como Antártica o Siberia sin quejarse.
8 Stop shaking
Whenever you find yourself shaking, force yourself to stop. Chills are a body mechanism for generating heat when it’s cold.
9 Cold is not a threat
It is an instinctive behavior to react uncomfortable to unusual conditions, but discomfort and danger are two different things. There is generally no danger in being in a cold environment, as long as the cold isn’t extreme enough to lower your core body temperature, and you don’t stay out in the cold for too long.
10 Enjoy winter activities
Make this process fun. Go outside and try some outdoor winter activity. There are many options: sledding, sledding, cross country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or winter hiking. Simply by doing some activity you will warm up faster in the cold and also have a fun way to spend the long winter months outside instead of being cooped up at home.
The lack of sunlight causes vitamin D deficiency. According to a specialized publication of the International Archives of Medicine, the lack of vitamin D in the body could be responsible for the depressive symptoms that some people suffer during the winter. Avoid lack of energy, depressive symptoms and lack of motivation by eating foods rich in this organic substance, such as salmon, tuna, trout, cow’s milk and soy drinks and even taking dietary supplements. You can also use LED light bulbs that replace sunlight and don’t forget to exercise and do outdoor activities to connect with other people.
Personally, I have noticed that each year I have increased my tolerance for cold. Until last year the coldest it could get outside hiking was about 19°F and this year I’ve been hiking at 6°F.
– There is cold and there is “real” cold. If the outside temperature drops to dangerous levels, or if you’ve already spent too much time outside in a cold environment, wrap up or head inside.
– Frostbite, also known as Frostbite, is a condition in which the extremities of the body undergo nerve and tissue damage as a result of prolonged exposure to cold. Always keep your hands, feet and sensitive organs of the head covered when you have to be in extreme conditions for long periods of time. There is no point in taking risks with your personal health and safety.
– Know the symptoms of cold stress: skin redness, tingling, pain, swelling, leg cramps, numbness, and blisters.
Check our events page and participate in some of our winter activities.
Let me know your opinions in the comments.
See you on the Trails!
- Cold Acclimation and Acclimatization in Humans – Science of the Cold. (n.d.). Retrieved from Cool Antarctica: https://www.coolantarctica.com/Antarctica%20fact%20file/science/cold_acclimation_human.php
- How can I acclimatize to cold? (n.d.). Retrieved from The Great Outdoors: https://outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/88/how-can-i-acclimatize-to-cold