Do You Know Enough About The Cold To Keep Warm?

With cooler temperatures upon us, it’s finally time to pull out your winter wardrobe. And while many of us have dreamed of chilly weather, especially in the midst of the summer heat, it’s important to take the cool weather seriously and not only dress for style, but also for warmth.

To ensure that you stay toasty all winter long, GMC’s Women’s Health Navigator, Sheila Warren, RN, provides some helpful tips on how to stay cozy and avoid common myths about dressing for cold weather. 

Myth: Dressing warmly avoids colds, viruses, and flu.

Mom was wrong on this one — mostly. If you have been exposed to a virus, chances are keeping warm won’t fend off the flu or cold completely; however, recent studies do suggest that being warm may support your body’s immune defense.

Myth: You lose body heat through your head.

There's nothing special about your head. You'll lose body heat from any part of your body that is exposed. It's a good idea to wear a hat, but other parts of your body must also be covered to keep you from getting cold. 

The amount of heat you can lose through your head depends on a number of factors, including how thick your hair is and how much energy you use in the cold. The ratio of the surface area of a child's head relative to the child's body surface area is much greater than that of an adult. Children lose proportionally more heat through their heads. Hoods and hats are more important to children because of this. 

Myth: Men and women feel cold at the same temperature.

Ever notice that women's hands and feet tend to get colder before men's? It's because the external temperature at which men’s and women's bodies begin conserving heat — called the set point temperature — varies by about 3°. 

When surrounding temperatures drop to a certain point, your body will conserve heat by shutting off the blood flow to the hands and feet, making them feel chilled. For women, that temperature is about 70°, while men can hold steady until about 67° or 68°. 

Myth: Dress in layers to stay warm.

It's true that dressing in layers allows people to adjust for different levels of activity. But one warm garment that is well-made will do just as well to keep away the winter chills.

Dressing in layers does make sense, particularly for someone exercising in the cold. For the best results, wear polypropylene or another man-made fabric next to the skin, a knit middle layer (which can be taken off if you get too warm), and a man-made outer layer. 

Myth: Drinking alcohol will keep you warm.

Drinking alcohol may make you feel warm because it causes blood to rush to your skin's surface. But it actually causes your blood vessels to widen and makes you lose heat faster. Drinking alcohol in the cold also decreases the shivering process, which produces extra body heat. But the worst part about alcohol consumption is that it impairs judgment.  

Feel the Heat & the Health

Staying healthy all winter long can be a tall task. With keeping warm, avoiding the cold or flu, and holiday stresses, your winter health routine could use the guidance and assistance of an expert. GMC’s Women’s Health Navigator will be able to provide you with the information, support and resources you need to keep you and your family healthy. Give your health routine the boost it needs by visiting Sheila Warren, RN, Women’s Health Navigator for your free Health & Wellness Consult.

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