Keeping warm and comfortable in winter is more than about having an extra layer of clothes or adjusting the heater.  Knowing the science of heat transfer and applying concepts into practice can also make you warmer in more ways than you expect.  Here are 7 concepts and scientific methods to avoid feeling cold during the days and nights of winter.

1. Understand Conduction and Convection

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One concept you need to know is how heat is transferred between two surfaces that are directly touching each other.  This is known as conduction and it can affect how cold or warm you feel.  Another important concept to learn is convection, which is how heat is transferred among masses, fluids or gases.  The mass can be anything from a ball to an apple, or your body.  Absorbing the basic idea of these concepts can help you develop creative ways to keep warm.

During the process of conduction, heat leaves your body when it makes direct contact with a cold object.  Convection can also occur, which is when the wind draws heat from you.  Wearing additional clothing can prevent heat loss from both conduction and convection.

Underwear and socks minimize direct body contact with cold objects, which is a primary cause of conduction.  Outerwear such as sweaters or coats can protect you from exposure to the wind, which can take away heat from your body through convection.  In general, wearing comfortable layers of clothing can prevent the loss of heat to the environment.

2. Let Your Body Shiver

When you shiver, it means your nerves are telling you that you need to move to a warmer spot.  A drop in skin temperature can cause shivering, which helps to stabilize your core body temperature.  When the muscles repeatedly contract and relax, it generates heat and minimizes the effects of convection or conduction.  Nonetheless, shivering means its time to go indoors or near a fire as soon as possible.

Those affected by moderate hypothermia may not experience shivering as a reaction to cold.  When muscle contractions do not generate enough heat, the body becomes less prone to shivering.  This implies that the decreasing temperatures may eventually cause the body to stop shivering, which also leads to a lower core body temperature. If you cannot shiver, you must stay indoors or wear the proper clothes for the season.

3. Eat More Food


Your body can adapt to the cold better through food.  If you consume more calories than the amount being burned by your body, more heat is conserved.  Keeping your blood sugar high enough can help provide the energy you need to stay warm in cold conditions. Water is also helpful in assisting your body in tolerating the cold.  It is recommended that you stay hydrated with warm water or other beverages.

4. Let Your Body Adapt

Your body can acclimate on its own to the cold weather.  There is a type of body fat known as brown fat that consumes calories instead of storing them.  As the calories are being used, the energy released becomes heat.

Brown fat is abundantly found in mammals that hibernate or cannot shiver in the cold.  The better the body is in acclimating to the cold, the more heat brown fat can generate.  Previous research has revealed that exposure to cold can lead to a higher production of brown fat. 

5. Stay Fit and Healthy

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The rate that your body acclimates to the cold is also positively correlated with how physically fit you are.  Body fat assists in keeping you warm, which means being too thin may actually be less helpful for acclimation.

No matter how good your body is able to adapt to the cold, you should still be prepared before the winter strikes.  Look up the weather and take note of any warnings.  If you expect to be traveling through rough conditions, bring some extra water, heavy calorie foods, blankets, and extra clothes. People can end up losing their lives when caught in a storm without being adequately prepared.

6. Watch Your Daily Medications

If you know your body, you can take care of yourself better in cold conditions.  Using drugs such as alpha-blockers, beta-blockers, and direct vasodilators can make your body sensitive to cold.  Young children less than 2 years old or people over the age of 60 are less likely to have strong defense mechanisms such as shivering to combat the effects of the cold. 

7. Resist the Liquor

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Warm beverages such as coffee or hot chocolate can make a cold day feel warmer.  Alcohol on the other hand, can decrease the core body temperature.  While drinking is a festive tradition, only consume alcohol in a warm environment. The worse situation you can place yourself in is spending a long time outside after having a large amount of liquor. As always, drink with responsibility and take note of how much you have had.   

Knowing the science of how the body releases and stores heat can improve how effective you manage the cold conditions.  You can impress your friends as well with your knowledge of these tips. By following these scientifically calculated practices, you can keep yourself comfortable until spring arrives.