7 Effects of Cold on The Human Body: How does your body respond to the cold?
This Is Your Body In The Cold
You can feel your muscles bracing for the cold the moment you step out the door. They contract and feel tighter, restricting your range of motion, which can make those first pedal strokes feel considerably harder than they would on a cozy 70-degree day. You can offset that bracing effect by doing a short warm-up inside, says exercise physiologist Stacy Sims, PhD, author ofRoar. "Then give yourself extra time to ease into things when you get outside," she says, adding that "if you're going to be racing in the cold, warm up until as close to starting time as possible and keep moving until the gun goes off."
"Your body is going to protect your organs first and foremost," says Sims. That means your blood is going to get shunted away from your extremities and into the center of your body, which is why your hands and feet (and even face) can be so ridiculously hard to keep warm when it's even a little cold. Obviously, you'll want to respond accordingly by protecting your head, feet, and hands with warm clothing, such as a beanie that covers your head and tips of your ears, insulated gloves, and thermal socks and shoe covers. Another tip: Keeping your core temperature up helps keep all of you warm because your body is less stingy with the blood flow. Investing in a good base layer is a great place to start.
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Typically, your heart rate will lower in response to cold as it begins pumping less blood to your skin and extremities. When you start moving, your heart has to work harder to keep you warm while also moving blood into your working muscles, so your heart rate may be higher than it would be for the same workload during warmer weather. This extra load causes increases in blood pressure as well, so warm up thoroughly and don't expect to set any PRs when the temperatures dip into deep-freeze territory.
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Sucking in cold, dry air saps warmth and moisture from your airways and lungs, which can make you feel short of breath—or even trigger exercise-induced asthma in those who are susceptible to the breathing condition. Again, take your time warming up so you're not huffing and puffing right out of the gate. Also slip on a neck gaiter that you can pull up over your mouth to warm the air before it hits your lungs.
As your body shuttles more blood and fluids into your core to protect your organs and keep you warm, your brain gets a signal to reduce your body's overall fluid volume, hence the more frequent urge to pee. Women can avoid having to shed all their layers when needing to shed water by wearing drop tail or halter bibs (or plain, non-bib tights). These allow the wearer to heed nature's call without exposing more skin than necessary to the elements. And remember, even if you're not as thirsty as you would be on a very hot day, you're still losing fluids. So stay on top of your hydration.
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Cold-weather workouts are downright invigorating, with colder air and typically lower humidity. Also, because your body has to work harder in the cold, you get a bigger endorphin boost, which is a great way to beat the winter blues.
If you're still losing more heat than you're generating (despite your meticulous warm-up and layering), you're going to get cold. Your skin will respond with what is known as horripilation—"goose bumps"—which is your body's attempt to create more insulating air space within your fur. But since you don't have any fur, it's generally pretty ineffective.
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