Healthy Living: Ways to Warm Up if You’re Always Cold

Warm your clothes in the dryer before getting dressed in the morning.

Toss Your Clothes Into the Dryer

Few things may take the chill off more quickly than putting on clothes straight from a toasty tumble. Run them through a short spin just before you get dressed. Your body is usually warmest in the morning, so it's a good idea to try and hang on to the heat. It won't last forever, but it will give you a cozy start to the day.

Eating warm foods will help keep your core body temperature up.

Get Your Calories

Your body needs fuel to burn to keep your core body temperature up, especially when it's cold outside. Shoot for at least one hot meal a day, and try to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and other unprocessed foods.

Wearing socks to bed will help keep you toasty at night.

Wear Socks to Bed

It may look funny, but it's better than blue toes! Not only will it help heat your whole body, but warm feet also seem to signal your brain that it's time to go to sleep. If you just can't get with this bedtime fashion, walk around in cozy slippers for about an hour before you hit the sack.

Flannel, silk, and long underwear and a hat will help keep you warm while you sleep.

Pick Your PJs With Care

Sleep in soft, flexible fabrics. Flannel will keep you cozy, but it still breathes so that you won't get too hot, or damp from sweat. Silk could be warm, too, but it might not breathe as well. If you're really cold, long underwear and even a hat, or "nightcap," can help.

Eat foods rich in iron and B12 to generate red blood cells that keep your body oxygenated.

Get Your Iron and Vitamin B12

Without enough of both, you can get anemia, which means you have too few red blood cells to take oxygen around your body. That could make you feel chilly. Some people don't get enough B12 from food or don't absorb it easily. Pregnant women sometimes have lower levels of iron, because their bodies use more than usual. Get B12 in chicken, eggs, or fish. Get iron from poultry, pork, seafood, chickpeas,and green leafy vegetables.

Dress in light layers underneath a heavier jacket or sweater to stay warm.

Dress in Layers

A few lighter layers warm you better than a single heavy one. Start with something thin, like thermal underwear that wicks away moisture. Add insulation like a down jacket or wool sweater in the middle. Use a windbreaker as an outer shell. Three layers seem to be a sweet spot, but you can adjust. Just add another layer if you're still cold and take one off when you're hot.

A heated mattress pad may keep you warmer at night than an electric blanket.

Heat Your Mattress

An electric blanket wastes half its heat to the ceiling. It also can bunch up. But a heated mattress pad fits snugly like a sheet. Because it doesn't move as much, it likely won't wear out as quickly or easily as a blanket.

Spicy foods like jalapenos can help you feel warm.

Spice Up Your Life

Do you notice a little sweat on your brow when you eat those extra jalapenos at your favorite taco joint? That's because spicy food literally warms up your body. Nothing wrong with that, unless you have stomach problems like ulcers. In fact, a spicy diet can be good for you. Just don't overdo it, especially if you notice that you don't feel well afterward.

Use space heaters to heat your immediate area or room.

Plug In Space Heaters

They can help warm smaller areas. Pick a UL-approved unit that fits your space and purpose. A "convection" type with a fan might be best to heat a whole room. A "radiant" model is better to heat a specific spot. Put it on a level surface away from moving people. Keep pets and children away. Plug electric heaters directly into the wall, and look for a safety switch that turns it off when it's knocked over.

Being active outside may help you warm up and will keep you fit.

Move Your Body

Go for a walk or a jog. If it's too cold outside, hit the gym, or just do some jumping jacks, pushups, or other exercises indoors. Not only will it warm you up, it helps build and keep your muscles, which also burn calories and make body heat. If you're healthy enough for it, vigorous exercise might even raise your core body temperature, at least for a while.

Give yourself about 2 weeks to get acclimated to a place that has a different climate than you're used to.

Give It Time

Give yourself about 2 weeks to adjust to a new place that's much colder than you're used to. This may be harder as you get older or if you have very little body fat. Some medications, like those for allergies or asthma, can also get in the way. People who spend lots of time outside often find it easier to get used to sudden changes in temperature.

Look for boots that are waterproof as well as insulated to keep your feet warm.

Shop for the Right Boots

Just because your footwear is insulated doesn't necessarily mean it'll keep you warm. Boots that aren't well sealed from moisture can turn into ice blocks. Look for a high IPX rating. IPX-8 is the highest. It means you could dunk the whole boot in water and your foot would stay dry. And be sure to buy them big enough to fit in some thick wool socks.

Tell your doctor if you feel more cold than usual.

Keep Track

Tell your doctor if you're more sensitive to the cold than in the past. It could be a symptom of a problem with your nutrition, red blood cells (anemia), blood vessels, thyroid gland, or the brain's thermostat. Try to note how often it happens, how long it lasts, and if it's getting worse. Your doctor might do some tests to narrow down the cause.

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REFERENCES:

  • AARP: "8 Ways to Stay Warm This Winter," "5 Reasons You're Always Cold."
  • Aging: "Long-term calorie restriction, but not endurance exercise, lowers core body temperature in humans."
  • American Society of Hematology: "Anemia."
  • BMJ: "Consumption of spicy foods and total and cause specific mortality: population based cohort study."
  • U.S. Department of Energy: "Portable Heaters."
  • HeyHashi.org: "Cold Intolerance, Hashimoto's & What to Do About It."
  • International Journal of Sports Medicine: "Temperature regulation during exercise."
  • LifeRaftGroup.org: "Cold Intolerance Coping Strategies."
  • MarieCurie.org: "16 things you should be doing to keep warm and well in cold weather."
  • National Sleep Foundation: "Pick the right pajamas to get your best night's sleep," "Warm feet may help you sleep."
  • Physiology and Behavior: "The effects of hedonically acceptable red pepper doses on thermogenesis and appetite."
  • University of Iowa Health Care: "Acclimatization- adjusting to the temperature."
  • World Journal of Gastroenterology: "Consumption of spicy foods and the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome."
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