If you live in a temperate or colder climate, you’re likely all too familiar with chilly weather.
Humans self-regulate body temperature with the hypothalamus, a part of that brain that compares your current internal temperature to your body’s “normal” temperature — typically between 97°F (36.1°C) and 99°F (37.2°C).
When your temperature starts to drop below what’s normal for you, your body gets the signal to generate heat.
Unless you’re experiencing hypothermia, your core temperature is typically pretty stable. But your skin temperature — how your fingers, toes, legs, arms, and forehead feel — may start to go down as cold air steals heat from your body.
It’s possible for your body to get so cold that your core temperature is affected. This can harm your body and is considered a medical emergency. Read on for some ways to help increase your body temperature.
Physical activities can increase blood flow and help your body feel warmer. But not all physical activities will actually boost your core temperature. Here are some activities you can try.
While “getting your blood flowing” does help increase core body temperature, intense or long-term cardio exercise (such as running) can actually lead to a short-term decrease in skin temperature as you sweat.
If you need to do work outside or just have to get some fresh air, the key is to keep moving.
Don’t overexert yourself, especially not without warming up muscles first — just try to keep blood moving through your body. Walking, even if you’re not going anywhere, can help keep your body temperature from dropping.
Keep the speed and pace to a minimum. Running outside in extreme temperatures can decrease your coordination and increase risk of injury.
Putting your hands in your armpits
Putting your hands under your armpits hugs your body heat close to you and warms your fingers.
“Bundling up” is a quick way to give your body temperature a boost. Wearing several layers of fabric can trap your body heat closer to your body and help you feel warmer.
Use a hat or gloves if they’re available. Your head is one part of your body that can’t shiver, meaning that wearing a hat is the only way to warm up that part of your body.
If you can keep your hands, feet, and head covered with something warm, you can better preserve your core body temperature.
There are also some foods and beverages you can consume to warm yourself up.
Hot tea or coffee
A warm, soothing beverage can warm up your body quickly, even feeling warm as you swallow it.
Eating soup can have a similar effect to tea or coffee, warming up your body as you eat it.
Eating foods rich in fiber that take longer to digest might help you feel warmer.
Protein and fats
Spending time in colder temperatures indoors and out may cause your body to
While it should not be an excuse to indulge during winter months, eating nutritious, calorie dense foods may help you stay a little warmer during the colder months.
You may not be able to physically zap yourself to a beach. But there’s reason to believe that simply visualizing a warmer climate might be enough to help you warm up.
These techniques, called “g-tummo” practices, were first found to be effective in Tibetan monks. By visualizing a warmer place, participants were able to sustain an increase in core body temperature.
That same research showed that what’s known as
By bringing in your breath, holding it for a few seconds, and then contracting both pelvic and abdominal muscles, your lower body takes the shape of a “vase.”
This breathing technique can take some practice. But doing “vase breathing” in cooperation with meditated visualization may maximize the potential of both to increase body temperature using only your mind and breath.
Stay close to someone else
If it’s safe (and comfortable) to do so, share body heat with someone else. The warm breath and heat of another human being within arm’s reach can help keep your core body temperature from dropping too low.
Take a warm bath
A quick way to raise your internal temperature is hydro-immersion therapy — better known as taking a bath.
While a shower can help to warm your body as well, a bath that covers your chest area
Change into warm clothes
If you’re coming in from being outside, your clothes may feel damp or wet from wintry weather.
An easy trick is to run your dryer with a fresh set of clothes for 5 minutes and change out of your outside clothes and into dry, cozy clean ones.
The average body temperature is 98.6°F (37°C). But you should know that “normal core body temperature” varies slightly from person to person.
It’s not a specific number but rather a range of what’s thought to be healthy. Any temperature from 97°F (36.1°C) and 99°F (37.2°C) can be considered normal.
And a cold environment isn’t the only reason that your core temperature may decrease, regardless of your normal body temperature. Here are some possible reasons for decreases in body temperature.
Health conditions may cause you to feel a change to your core temperature. A bacterial or viral infection can cause fluctuations in your body temperature as your body fights off germs.
Drinking alcohol may
Drinking alcohol will make you less aware of the actual temperature of your environment and may actually impact your body’s ability to thermoregulate.
As we age, our core body temperature sometimes gets lower as a natural part of the process. For adults over the age of 65, normal body temperature typically falls below 98.6°F (37°C).
Here are some steps you can take to prevent getting cold in the first place:
- Dress in layers.
- Use heating pads or an electric blanket when you’re relaxing at home, and hand warmers when you’re outside.
- Wear warm socks and slippers around your home.
- Close off rooms you aren’t using, close vents, and close curtains or blinds to maximize the heat in your living space.
- Drink warm beverages, like hot tea.
- Try using a draft-dodger for drafty doors.
- Bring a lap blanket when you’re a passenger on a car trip.
If your core temperature goes below 95°F (35°C) you’re experiencing hypothermia. Hypothermia is a medical emergency and requires attention from a doctor.
This can be caused by exposure to the cold, but can also be triggered or become more likely due to your age and certain health conditions.
Other symptoms that require medical attention include:
- skin that looks hard or feels waxy
- skin that is tinged bluish, whiteish, gray, or red after extreme temperature exposure
- extremities that form blisters when you try to warm them up too quickly
- fever after cold exposure
- clumsiness or muscle stiffness after cold exposure
- unexplained symptoms after being outdoors in the cold
- confusion or disorientation
Even if you feel a chill, your core body temperature is probably within normal range. It’s when your body shows symptoms of hypothermia that you need to be concerned.
If you’ve got no choice but to be exposed to lower temperatures, get resourceful with physical activity, your diet, and mental exercises to feel warmer.