On December 14th, 2018

How to Stay Warm, According to Science

Though it seems some people are more "warm-blooded" than others, knowing these winter tips - based on real science facts - will help keep you warmer when the cold winds blow and the ice, sleet, and snow seem to know no end.

Don't sit down outside. 
Stay standing and keep active. If you sit on a cold chair or on the snow, you will get colder. This is because coming in contact with the the frozen ground results in conduction. In conduction, when heat transfers between a cold solid object and a warmer object (your body), your body temperature will decrease. Additionally, when you are sitting or less active outside, your body is not producing as much energy to keep you warm.

Dress in layers. 
The layers of clothing that you wear against your skin are called your base layer. These keep you from losing your body heat through conduction. Wool socks and long underwear are the best. On the other hand, the blowing wind can capture your body heat through convection. On top of your base layer, wear a water proof and wind proof layer that breathes to protect you from heat loss though convection. The name of the game is insulation, protecting yourself from conduction and convection. In fact, one of the classic science-based sources, the original Farmers Almanac, suggests wearing a “wicking” polyester (or silk) undershirt next to your skin, instead of wearing cotton. They also suggest trying flannel-lined pants.

Tuck your pants into your socks.
It might look a little dorky, but tucking your pants into your socks creates what's called the chimney effect. This will protect you from the effects of convection because you'll stop the flow of cold air into your clothes and keep the warm air inside your clothes.

Make sure to eat healthy, hearty food.
When your body is fueled by consuming more calories than you're burning, it can handle cold weather better. As an article on LiveScience.com says: "It's important to keep your blood sugar up enough to provide the energy you need to keep warm." Complex carbohydrates are the best foods to eat to combat the cold. These include whole grains and rice. Adding mild spices, like cinnamon and ginger to your food will also help increase your metabolism by generating body heat. But, don't make your food so spicy that you sweat because then your body will lose heat.

Drink water, too.
Keeping hydrated by drinking liquids, especially water, will also keep you warmer because you are keeping your food and water intake balanced.

Rub your wrists together.
It may sounds a little weird, but it works. On each of your wrists is a pulse point. By rubbing these two pulse points together, you allow the blood vessels close to the surface of your skin to heat up your blood. And, since your blood flows throughout your body, running your wrists together can warm up your entire body.

Use a humidifier inside.
A humidifier is a small device that blows water mist into a room to keep the air moist. Often in winter, when the furnace runs non-stop inside, the house can get very dry, even to the point that a lot of static electricity is generated. Being in a dry house can also make your eyes, nose and skin dry. As room temperature drops, water vapor capacity also drops. By raising the water vapor level in the air, the temperature of the room will also get warmer.

All of these cold-weather tricks work because they are based on science. Experiment today by using one of more of these suggestions and see which work best for you.

If you want to stay out of the cold, stop by the Discovery Center to learn and have fun indoors. Or, here are a ten fun STEM activities to try when it's cold outside and you are nice and warm inside.

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