Feeling a nip in the air? It could be the changing seasons, or it could be that your body is becoming more susceptible to the cold — or perhaps a mix of both.
Research shows that as we age, our bodies' abilities to regulate temperature decrease. That means we often feel colder (or hotter) than we did when we were younger. In the winter, it's crucial to stay warm to avoid discomfort and to prevent more serious conditions like frostbite or hypothermia.
Here are a few tips on how to stay warm and healthy this winter.
1. Turn Up the Temperature
You should keep your thermostat set to at least 68 to 70 degrees during cooler months, according to the National Institute on Aging. Take extra caution if you use a space heater — these can pose a serious fire hazard, so follow portable heater best practices to stay safe and toasty.
2. Layer Up
Dressing in layers is an excellent way to stay warm, and it allows you to modify your wardrobe as the outside temperature changes or as your body heats up. A warm coat and good footwear are essential starting points. From there, you can layer underneath a coat with moisture-wicking base layers and sweaters.
Don't forget a hat and scarf to prevent losing excess body heat from your exposed head and neck.
3. Stay Hydrated
It can be hard to remember to drink water when it's cold out, but it's just as important to stay hydrated in winter as it is in the summer. Dehydration can weaken your immune system and make it harder for your body to keep warm.
Drink plenty of water in the colder months, and avoid overdoing it with alcoholic beverages, which can cause your body to lose heat.
4. Talk to Your Doctor
From cardiovascular disease to diabetes, there are several health conditions that can increase your sensitivity to the cold. Some medications can also change the way your body responds to temperature swings. Talk to your doctor to determine if you're at higher risk of cold sensitivity based on any of your conditions or prescriptions.
Watch for Warning Signs
By following these tips, you can continue to enjoy outdoor activities all winter long. Just be mindful of the warning signs of frostbite and hypothermia, including numbness, excessive shivering and confusion. If you or someone else is showing symptoms of serious heat loss, get into a warm area as quickly as possible and seek proper medical care.