Tuesday, December 16, 2008
This question crosses my screen fairly often: Is it possible to increase your tolerance for cold? This is really two questions. If you're wondering if individuals can "feel" cold less if they are acclimatized to cold, the answer is a big YES. People who spend a lot of time outside in the cold definitely feel the stress of cold less, so they tolerate cold better. If you're wondering if you can become more resistant to frostbite and hypothermia, the answer is probably no. Eskimos, for instance, who spend much of their lives in extremes of cold, and who are very tolerate of cold, can freeze just as fast as those who spend most of their lives in Figi. I say "probably no" because there does exist a small but growing body of evidence suggesting some people can become more resistant to cold injury. If it becomes fact that some people are more resistant to cold injury, the fact will likely remain academic, not much use to most outdoor enthusiasts. This remains a fact: people who avoid frostbite and hypothermia know how to dress and act properly in the cold outdoors.