Cold Weather and How It Affects Your Body

By: McKinsey Harris Email
By: McKinsey Harris Email

Whether you're simply out running holiday errands or actually working in the cold, these freezing temperatures can be brutal.

Maurice Whiting is a Harrisonburg traffic specialist, working outside.

He says this week's forecast means one thing: it's cold.

"Extremely. Extremely, it's just bitter, it's not good," says Whiting.

He says, when working outdoors, it's usually an extreme, either freezing or sweating, but the job has to be done.

"I knew it was going to be cold, so you just dress appropriately and it's all in a day's work for the better part," says Whiting.

Dr. Greg Jesteadt says with temperatures this cold, your blood leaves the surface and heads to the vital organs.

"And the result of that is that you get blue fingertips and white fingertips and whatnot," says Jesteadt.

He says things like fluids, food and lots of warm clothes are helpful, not just to prevent dry skin.

"When it's that cold out, your body's not only doing the work that it needs to do but it's also working a little bit harder just to stay warm, which also takes energy and calories away," says Jesteadt.

Whiting says wind doesn't make his job more difficult, just much colder.

"Just my face is, right now, for the better part really, really cold. But other than that, I'm bundled, I'm warm other than my face and my fingers," says Whiting.

Jesteadt says the normal "thermal blanket" our body builds on a cold day is blown away by the wind chill.

"So the end result is you feel much colder, and then you actually have to fight to keep that thermal layer there or you'll freeze to death," says Jesteadt.

He says, with these cold temperatures, many people are afraid that they'll get sick by spending time outdoors, but he says cold weather alone doesn't actually cause illness.


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