Stay warm, stay well


Stay warm, stay well

The clocks going back an hour coincided with a cold snap that makes us think that winter is most definitely here! And with the cold weather comes a whole bunch of potentially unpleasant risks to health… The list includes: a poorer immune system, increased risk of migraines, a lowered sex drive, sleeplessness, cardiovascular issues, breathing problems, depression and – in the elderly and vulnerable – death! So… Here are some simple ways that you can stay warm and stay well…

The 80/20 Principle
This ‘natural law’, also known as the ‘Pareto Principle’, suggests that approximately 80% of results come from around 20% of causes. For example, it’s likely that 20% of a company’s customers generate 80% of its turnover, and that 20% of your carpet gets 80% of the wear! Of course, it doesn’t always work out at exactly 80/20; rather, the principle suggests that the relationship between two correlatives is almost always disproportionate.

Interestingly, you can apply this principle to how you heat your home! If you think about it, you probably spend about 80% of your time in 20% of the rooms in your house! It’s worth identifying which rooms they are, and keeping them heated to your ideal temperature – most likely between 18°C (64°F) & 21°C (70°F). The other rooms – those in which you spend very little time – may not need to be constantly heated to such a degree.

Layer up:
The argument between people as to whether or not a place is too hot or too cold sometimes threatens to become a full-scale war! Rather than become a casualty, try wearing a few thin layers of clothing instead of one thick one. This means you’re not only able to move around more easily but also exercise greater control over your personal temperature by peeling off whatever is appropriate. Finally, remember that two or more thin jumpers trap more air between them in a way that better insulates against the cold.

And they began to cry!
The tale of the two little kittens that lost their mittens reminds us of the simple fact that mittens are warmer than gloves! That’s because heat escapes through the surface area of your skin: obviously, the clothes you wear trap the heat as it leaves your body… Since mittens enclose all your fingers in a group, the heat escaping from each digit is contained within one space! In other words, the warmth escaping from your middle finger, say, is beneficial to the fingers on either side of it. And because the mittens themselves have a smaller surface area than five individually ‘gloved’ fingers, it also better retains the heat!

A little exercise…
…goes a long way to getting your blood flowing and ensuring you keep warm. Think about it, though, and you’ll realize that even a brisk walk in the cold warms you up better than a casual plod. So if you’re on your way somewhere and notice a chill, pick up your pace.

Wear a hat!
There’s a bit of confusion over the benefit of wearing a hat these days… For years, people accepted that ‘Most of your body heat’ is lost through your head, but that wearing a hat retained that heat. Then someone muddied the water by saying experiments prove that the head loses no more and no less heat than any other part of the body!

So which is correct? Well, both are! Experiments prove that you lose about the same amount of heat through your head as through any other part of your body – why wouldn’t you?! But traditionally, of course, you do tend to cover the rest of your body with clothes! So if you’re fully dressed but not wearing a hat then of course you’ll be losing more heat through your head! Not because your head’s special, but because the rest of you is already wrapped up. Our advice is to wear a hat, wear a scarf and immediately notice feeling warmer!

No If’s, And’s or Butts
If you need another reason to stop smoking, then we have good news! As well as the obvious – you won’t need to go outside to have a smoke – your circulation is adversely affected by smoking! Just one cigarette can shut down the blood vessels in your toes, for example, for up to three hours. And if you’ve been a heavy or regular smoker for any length of time, then your arteries will be less efficient than they used to be. Happily, though, blood circulation often improves within weeks of quitting smoking.

Drink warm fluids:
There’s a myth that still does the rounds: it says that drinking a hot drink actually cools you down. The logic is that if you’re warm and your body senses more heat coming in, it’ll think: ‘Hmmmm… I’m getting even hotter! I need to produce more sweat to cool down!’. This is only partly correct! In fact, while your body does sweat a little more to try and compensate for drinking a hot drink, you don’t sweat enough to offset its effect! In other words, hot drinks make you warmer. Keep in mind, though, that tea and coffee are dehydrating, whereas drinking peppermint tea, soup, or hot water with a slice of lemon are all hydrating and may very well keep you warmer from the inside out!

We are not alone:
Finally, without being too preachy, please remember that if you’re reading this first hand, there’s a good chance you’re better off than many others as regards keeping warm… If you have a vulnerable neighbour or relative, print off a copy of this for them, and check on them from time to time during the winter. And if you can’t personally make time to check on someone, please see if you can spare a little something for the charity Age UK. You can donate via – remember: every penny helps.