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Cold weather conditioning. Backpacker Mag says no more cold hands and feet.(7 posts)

Cold weather conditioning. Backpacker Mag says no more cold hands and feet.Kristin
Jan 23, 2003 11:25 AM
Backpacker had an article about conditioning yourself for colder temps. The premis: That we become suseptable to getting cold hands and feet because we over-heat ourselves regularly. The idea behind it is that our small capalaries naturally close when our skin gets cold, which in turn causes are hands and feet (and noses) to feel cold. They say that if, at the slightest chill, we immediatly heat turn up the heat, that we reinforce our bodies tendancy to close those capalaries and increase our own problem.

They claim that our bodies will learn to adapt to cold and will keep the blood flowing if we wean ourselves off of all that excess heat. They suggest things like turning down the heat at home by 2 degrees and not using the heater in the car. They also say it only takes 2 weeks to do. Do you think this will work? Is their premis true--medically?

I was thinking about trying this as I do keep things pretty warm and do get cold quickly. My fear lies in the fact that I get pretty extreme leg cramps if I allow my feet to be cold for too long. Then again, if the article is right, then I'm only contributing to my problem by turning up the heat.
re: This was true for me in my 20's and early 30's.dzrider
Jan 23, 2003 11:46 AM
I ran all winter in Connecticut wearing shorts. I ran for 3 or 4 winters before I tried a hat and gloves. I often ran in a hooded, cotton sweatshirt and never put the hood over my head. It used to fill with sweat and freeze.

I'm now 54. In day to day living we keep our house at 58 degrees and let it drop to 54 at night. I continue running and riding without bundling up each fall expecting to acclimate. Each year my hands get a little more sensitive to the cold. Now, I seldom cycle if it's below freezing and, if I do, I don't last much more than an hour before my hands and feet give it up. In the old days I was good down to 15. My experience has been that each time I really froze some part of me that part became a little more sensitive.
Jan 23, 2003 11:49 AM
I can think of two reasons people get cold hands/feet, the normal shunting of blood to the core to protect against hypothermia, which maybe this would help to attenuate that response if you reset what "cold" is to your body. Another reason is Reynauld's Phenomenom (or syndrome if you have it real bad), which is a spasm of the smooth muscles in arterial walls in response to cold that cuts off circulation. This is what I usually experience, since it is often isolated in certain fingers (never feet) and is more like a shooting pain than just cold hands.
Foot warmers?MR_GRUMPY
Jan 23, 2003 1:36 PM
Why not try those foot warmer thingys ? Also, put a hot rub on your legs.
re: Cold weather conditioning. Backpacker Mag says no more cold hands and feet.Mike-Wisc
Jan 23, 2003 1:50 PM
You can to some extent. It was around zero-DegF here this morning and I forgot my safety glasses in the car. I walked out with just a short sleeved shirt to get them. Walking back in several people said I was nuts, but it wasn't really that bad since I only had to walk less than 20 yards to the car and back. You can condition yourself somewhat for limited amounts of exposure, but genetically you'll be hard pressed to exceed your body's limitations. There's a group of people in Australia (I think) that have a genetic physiology that allows them to fare very well in temps down to freezing with nothing on but shorts due to the way their bodies regulate blood flow to their skin. There is also something that I learned in a Physical Anthropology class called Huntington Wave Syndrome (I think) whereby your body intermittantly floods then shuts down blood flow to your extremities which is found in peoples in normally colder climates like Norway and Alaska and such.

You can improve your resistence and susceptability to cold, but should be carefull in doing so.
probably truectisevn
Jan 23, 2003 2:03 PM
I was just pondering this yesterday. I find that after a few weeks of consistent riding in sub freezing temps I become acclimated to it. I dont adjust the thermostat at home though...just spend more time riding in the cold. a month and a half ago anything below 30 felt frigid. Today I rode for an hour and a quarter in sub zero weather without any issues. It actually feels warmer than +25 did a month ago. the bike, however, does not acclimate. at least mine doesnt. bearing surfaces, like hubs, move less freely as it creeps below freezing.
Jan 23, 2003 2:31 PM
It definitely works. Just look at people from Alaska when they're on winter vacation down south. They'll be wearing T-shirts in 40 degree weather and thinking it's kind of hot out! I actually tried it out a couple of years ago and was amazed at how well it worked. All I did was not wear a jacket for the first few cold weeks of the year, and after that I honestly didn't feel like I needed one most of the time.

Same thing goes for hot weather. I once spent a couple of weeks in Phoenix when the temps were as high as 119. It was miserably hot, but when I went back to Utah, I hardly broke a sweat for the rest of the summer, in spite of record high temperatures.