3 Tips For Getting Warm on Cold Mornings

updated Jul 15, 2020
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These days I live in mild San Francisco, but I spent the first 23 years of my life in Chicago, a city where a windchill of -20ºF (that’s -29ºC) turns waiting for the bus into an extreme sport. I’ve learned a few things over the years…

1. Start the day off right.

I like to keep my apartment as cold as possible while I’m sleeping, but even if you don’t, the transition from under-the-covers to real world can be a brutal one. To remedy this, when I get undressed for bed, I fold up my pajamas and robe or leggings and sweatshirt and tuck them under the covers with me, off to the side or at the foot of the bed. They’re never in the way, but when it’s time to get up in the morning, they’re nice and toasty, warmed by my body heat. Yes, I get dressed and make the bed while I’m still in bed.

2. Trap that heat.

I’ve been a swimmer for many years, and walking two miles home from the pool during my college winters taught me a few tips. Mainly, you have to trap your heat. Be your own Hot Pocket! Take a hot shower, dry off as quickly and thoroughly as possible, and dress as quickly as possible. In this way, all of your precious body heat will be kept close to your body. You’re holding in heat, rather than letting yourself chill and then trying to warm up again.

3. Let yourself be cold, for at least the first 5 minutes.

Psychologically, this is the hardest one. When it’s truly cold outside, your body can make very convincing arguments for staying indoors: It’s warm! It’s cozy! It’s where the cheese is! But outside is where the fresh air, exercise, errands, and jobs are, and those are good things. Even if you’ve bundled yourself properly for the weather, chances are good you’ll still feel cold the first five minutes — and this is how it should be. If you step out into serious winter and feel comfortably warm, once you start moving and acclimating, you’ll be sweating buckets! And that works against you in so many ways. It’s much better to feel a bit of a chill at first, then get moving, get your heart rate up — and maybe even unbutton a button or two..

Please note: I am not a doctor! I’m just a Midwestern girl who loves getting out of the house but hates being cold. Please add your tips!

*Re-edited from a post originally published on 1.25.13 – AB