When working or playing outdoors in extreme temperatures, it is imperative that your core temperature is maintained in order to function properly and to enjoy your activity. Understanding this and knowing how to stave off a drop in body temperature makes all the difference to your performance and could even save your life. A resting adults core body temperature is 37°C or 98°F. A change of 2 degrees in either direction is serious, 5 degrees potentially fatal if not amended.
How Does My Body Protect Against The Cold?
It is easy when you are busy or distracted not to notice that you are losing body heat until effects manifest themselves physically such as the cooling of the fingers and toes. At this point the body has already kicked in its survival process. When your body core temperature starts to drop, the body diverts blood away from the skin surface and extremities and keeps it circulating around the body’s core to protect the major organs. If you continue to lose body heat then you will start to shiver. Shivering is basically the automatic movement of muscle mass which results in the generation of heat. Other systems such as hormones will also be released to increase your metabolism and continue to generate heat.
Reduce Heat Loss
If you find your body temperature dropping, you should immediately ensure that as little skin as possible is exposed to the environment. This not only means wearing clothes but also covering your extremities by wearing gloves, socks and a close fitting hat.
To further reduce heat loss you should ensure that a good insulator is placed next to your skin. This layer should absorb moisture, thus halting the cooling process and conduct heat by maximising the heat production you’re your own body.
Evaporation can be drastically reduced by staying dry. Always wear synthetic thermal underwear base layers and these will actively transport perspiration away from the skin.
Your outer layer should be waterproof and preferably windproof to prevent water penetration in to your clothing layers but also allow the efficient removal of any water moisture from the body.
A good windproof outer shell will stop convection energy loss by preventing wind penetration in to your clothing layers, stripping it of any stored heat.
Eat Yourself Warm
Remember your Grannie’s words about having a bowl of porridge on a winter morning? Those words apply the same today – do support your body’s sophisticated heat retention systems by eating nutritious, warm meals and drinks for a warmer experience outdoors this winter.
With our best wishes,