When it gets to winter we are faced with many new challenges and a lot of things become more difficult. It becomes harder to heat the house for example, harder to drive on slippery surfaces and there are fewer places to dry out your clothes. One of the most pressing concerns when it comes to winter however is keeping warm when your outside and it becomes a lot more difficult to do so at this time of year. However it is very important that you do keep warm as it can otherwise cause you a range of other problems – for example damaging your immune system and placing stress on it that could cause you to get an illness such as a cold, getting tissue damage and in extreme cases frost bite on your extremities, causing breathing difficulties, or taxing your circulatory and cardiovascular system.
By wrapping up warm then it is possible to protect your internal organs from the cold such as your heart and lungs, as well as preventing your extremities such as your fingers and ears from getting red and sore from the cold. Here we will look at how to wrap up warm and how to add layers and utilise other strategies to keep the cold at bay.
Wear a hat, scarf and gloves
Hats, scarves and gloves are all designed to protect some of our most vulnerable areas in the cold. A hat is particularly important as we can lose around 70% of our body heat through our head if it’s not covered, and because it can protect your ears that otherwise can sting in the cold and potentially be the first to develop frost nip and ultimately frost bite.
A scarf is also very important and shouldn’t be under-estimated, particularly as you use it not only to protect your neck, but also your nose and mouth by wrapping it around the lower half of your head. At the same time by wrapping it over your nose and mouth you are also increasing the temperature of the air you breathe in which means the cold is additionally less harsh on your lungs and less likely to aggravate any breathing problems you may have.
Lastly, gloves are slightly less important because you can keep your hands warm by putting them in your pockets. However they should still be considered as they allow your fingers and knuckles to stay warm which are areas susceptible to frost nip and this allows you to use them for tasks.
A lot of people make the mistake of trying to keep themselves warm by only adding lots of layers of woolly clothes. The idea here is that wool is a good insulator and so it should be able to keep you warmer. However this is neglecting the fact that one of the biggest contributors when you feel an icy bite is the wind which can blow straight through the gaps in wool. Additionally to wool and fleecy clothes then you need to have something that can act as a ‘wind breaker’ and prevent the wind from hitting you. Something leather or another heavy coat will do the job.
Wear a vest
A vest gives you an extra layer that’s close to your skin and means you can stay warm even when you have to take your heavy coats and jumpers off. A thermal vest is a particularly effective way to do this (and especially if it is tight), but also effective are string vests which are lighter but that trap air between the string which can actually act as a very good insulator itself.
The feet (particularly the toes) are susceptible just like the hands and ears to getting cold as they are exposed and extremities far from the heart. The feet are actually the furthest point from the heart and as such they are the most likely to get very cold if you aren’t sure to add warm socks.
It’s also important to add lots of layers if you want to stay warm and this of course means that there is a thicker amount of material between you and the cold outside. However there is certainly an art or a science to layering up and it’s important to layer logically so that you can remove your items when necessary and then carry them with you. Mix thick and thin layers and you should be ready for any kind of weather. Where possible try to layer in such a way as to avoid sweat as this will otherwise steel your body warmth as it tries to get energy to evaporate.
When you’re focussing on keeping warm in the harsh cold all sense of style or fashion goes out of the window. For instance you should tuck your shirt or t-shirt into your trousers even though you normally might not as this will prevent the cold wind from blowing under your clothes. It’s also a good idea to tuck your jumper into your trousers to make your ensemble as tight as possible – as we said: no sense of style.
Exerting yourself uses energy and burns body fat for fuel. This in turn generates heat as a by-product and that can keep you warm. While this will use up valuable energy so it’s not advisable for prolonged periods of time (being in the cold burns energy in itself). At the same time it’s again important to avoid sweating.
While moving around can help you to raise your body temperature, relaxing your body is also an important way to help yourself cool down and the natural reaction of tensing up will actually only make you feel the cold more. It seems counter-intuitive, but if you are currently seized up and shaking, try just relaxing your muscles and you’ll notice you immediately feel warmer.