When the temperature drops below freezing outside, changes are also occurring inside our bodies. We are most efficient at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, a drop into negative temperatures makes our blood vessels to constrict, a process called vasoconstriction, resulting in decreased blood flow to the brain. People often report symptoms such as declined coordination and muscle weakness. More vasoconstriction occurs in our extremities, as blood is moved to vital parts of the body and away from our limbs. The overall decrease in circulation to hands and feet can make one more susceptible to frost bite and gangrene. Someone with decreased circulation such as someone who is hypertensive is also at higher risk for a heart attack during the cold months.
Here is a list of things you can do to help minimize the effects of this icy weather:
- Move around- Something as simple as stretching is enough to increase circulation throughout your body. Next time you are sitting try clasping your hands behind your head to really open up the chest by taking deep breaths in and out. Also, try lifting your foot and circling the ankle in opposite directions, repeat other side.
- Ease into strenuous activity- Give yourself extra time to warm up as your muscles may be tenser making you more prone to injury. Kinetic stretching, that is in constant motion, is most recommended to prepare the muscle for exertion. Start with a small movement and gradually expand until your body feels warm and ready to go.
- Eat warmer foods- Hot foods like soups and teas not only warm up our bodies but they help us to feel fuller. Spices, such as cayenne pepper, will also increase our body temperature and our nasal passages.
- Bundle up, and don’t be ashamed to show off your winter socks!