I have a question for my readers that I can’t answer. As many of you know, I have several articles on the topic of cold exposure. This is something I began experimenting with almost a decade ago. I wanted to widen my comfort zone, which after living in San Diego for 7 years had become quite narrow.
You can go through my Cold Weather Exposure articles to see my journey. The steps I took to toughen up against colder temperatures absolutely worked for me, but I’m less certain the advice will work for women.
Although women on average have more body fat, they also have less muscle. And if my understanding on this topic is correct, it is muscle that generates the most heat.
This article on ABC News lists a few more ideas:
- Women have blood vessels closer to the skin, which makes their body temperature cooler than men.
- Women are more likely to have low blood pressure. Reduced circulation can result in feeling chilly.
If you are a woman or know a woman that has tried to expand their cold temperature comfort zone, please leave a comment. I’d love to know how successful the experiment went. Include approx age and body type as well.
I’d hate to recommend my protocol to women if there is little chance it will work for them.
Photo by Dion Tavenier
Nov 2, 2017 — 8:58 am
I didn’t realize you were back.
Cold exposure is what got me interested in your blog in the first place. I really enjoyed the challenge, and became much less sensitive to cold. (Going barefoot in cold weather made a big difference too, though I don’t challenge myself as much that way now – I wear homemade moccasins when there’s snow on the ground.) I’ve gone back to hot showers (spreads the sebum on my hair more now that I don’t use product) but am still able to cope when the hot water heater breaks. I’m not as cold tolerant as a new (male) roommate – who said, at -12°C this morning, that his hands had poor circulation so he had to put something on them while shovelling snow – but much more cold tolerant than many people.
I was late 40s when I started experimenting, and am 52 now. My body type is high mesomorphy (about 5.5 on a scale of 1-7, with the average woman being a 3 and the average man being a 4), though I’m overweight now, too, which makes me less resilient, and too tired to experiment.
I’ve met women from Iran who after a few years in Canada are still cold at normal room temperatures. I’ve seen so many classmates wearing coats and cranking the room heat up while the rest of us are sweating. I used to get into arguments with an elderly female roommate who kept cranking the heat up so that I would have to keep a window open a crack all the time in winter. I would have hot flashes every time the furnace kicked in and was confused until I saw how warm she’d set the thermostat.
I do think it is harder for women, and harder for people who grow up in warmer places, but that anyone can acclimatize at least somewhat if they work at it. I think it’s harder for women to go against social norms, too (an issue for barefooting and nudism, at least) so that may be a factor in women not challenging themselves with cold. I’m also curious about hypothermia, though. I know Wim Hof had an episode of hypothermia as a kid, as did I, and I’m wondering if that does something.
Nov 2, 2017 — 9:20 am
@Anemone – Thank you for your report. After not receiving any comments on this post for two months, I was thinking that it was less likely to become cold tolerant. I’m glad to read your experience showed otherwise.