Cold Feet and Hands? 7 Tips to Keep Them Warm This Winter
Cold hands, warm heart, right? Who cares. When your mitts and tootsies are freezing, you just want to warm them up STAT. Here’s how.
Why your hands and feet get cold
Don’t worry if you’re always rubbing your hands together for warmth or noticing that your feet are colder than the rest of your body. “The reason our hands and feet get cold in the winter is because our body prioritizes keeping our vital organs like our heart and lungs warm,” which leads to a reduction of blood flow to the extremities, says Alyssa Tucci, MS, RDN, CDN, at Compass Nutrition in New York City. Why hands and feet? Because those areas of the body are where heat is lost to cold air the most. Those parts of the body, along with the ears, have more thermoregulatory receptors than any other part of your body, which means they direct blood flow away from the hands and feet and toward the core of the body, Michael B. Gottschalk, MD, a surgeon at Emory Sports Medicine Clinic who specializes in the upper extremities explained to weather.com.
Eat heart-healthy foods
One way to warm up those extremeties is to boost circulation, and eating for heart health holds the key. “Try to incorporate heart-healthy foods like fatty fish, nuts, olive oil, and fruits and veggies into your diet,” Tucci suggests. These foods work wonders for your circulation, which is essential for adequate blood flow and temperature regulation. According to WebMD, such heart-healthy, circulation-boosting foods include salmon, raspberries, walnuts, low-fat yogurt, bananas, dark chocolate, oatmeal, and olive oil. You’ll get ample portions of all those delicious foods as part of the Mediterranean diet. Don’t miss these 9 common feet problems and podiatrists’ simple solutions.
Sleep with socks
While heading to bed with socks on your tootsies may not heat things up in the romance department, they can help heat you up. Even the healthiest person may need some assistance on a cold winter night, and Tucci says that socks can do the trick. As far as the best tootsie-toasting socks to wear, the experts at Fox Mountain Guides offer this advice for their ice-climbing course: Wear wool socks over liner socks. According to gearjunkie.com, the Ice Socks from Wigwam are the world’s warmest.
Wear the right kinds of gloves
Resist the temptation to scoop up those inexpensive dollar store gloves—or a fashionable pair that puts form before function—and opt for a product that’s truly going to keep your hands warm. Experts at Fox Mountain Guides suggest choosing bunting or fleece gloves when you’re in cold temperatures or icy conditions. “A heavier fleece will do a better job of keeping hands warmer when wet than lighter polypropylene or Capilene,” according to their website. Here’s how the body deals with freezing-cold weather.
Give warming gadgets a go
Indoors, you could crank up a space heater or sit in front of a roaring fire. But on the go, tech gadgets can be very effective at keeping you warm. The go-to choice from the experts at Fox Mountain Guides is Hot Hands, portable hand warmer packs that you can buy online or at most hunting or sporting departments. For toastier toes, try ThermaCELL Heated Insoles, a comfortable heated insole with a smart-charging technology that will keep your feet warm, minus the worry of overheating or sweating. Here’s how to keep your home warm while saving on heating costs.
Spice things up
Add some oomph to your winter drinks and meals while increasing your warmth at the same time. Certain spices are known for their ability to increase body temperature. Brigitte Mars, a nutritionist and professional member of the American Herbalist Guild says black pepper, cinnamon, cayenne, cardamom, ginger, horseradish, and garlic are among her top choices for spices that warm you up, according to huffingtonpost.com.
Sip on hot stuff
During the day, Tucci says it can’t hurt to sip on warm liquids like tea because it can help provide lingering surges in body temperature and more evenly distribute heat. Brooke Alpert, RD, tells Women’s Health that matcha tea in particular is ideal because it’s also a metabolism booster with several antioxidants. Alpert also suggests bone broth, not only because it’s warming to your body, but because it’s filled with magnesium and collagen—both of which are great for muscles and skin. Simply holding a warm mug can help keep fingers from getting cold, especially when you’re outdoors, like for a sports event.
You know how you enter the gym feeling chilly in your tank top, and then leave sweating bullets? Tucci explains that exercise—whether it involves hitting the gym or just getting some basic movement in during the day—gets blood flowing, which in turn boosts body temperature. A Prevention infographic, which includes information from a rheumatologist and other medical experts, states that arm-swinging is a great way to warm your hands. They advise swinging each arm in a circle “as though delivering a softball pitch,” explaining that the centrifugal force sends blood to cold fingertips. Exercise is also a win for keeping winter weight gain at bay.
When it’s more serious
If these warm-up tips have left you (still) cold, you may have Raynaud’s disease—an exaggerated cold response that affects about 20 percent of women, according Prevention. Dr. Gottschalk explains on weather.com that Raynaud’s disease typically results in fingers initially turning white, then maybe blue. Hands can go numb, and an ongoing issue with the disease may lead to wounds or ulcers on your fingers. In some Raynaud’s cases, a medical professional may suggest giving you blood vessel dilating medications including Viagra (yes, Viagra!). “Any patients who have Raynaud’s and associated skin changes, including tightening or thickening of the skin, nail changes, or cracks and sores that don’t heal, should get checked out,” says Natalie Evans, MD, vascular specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. Cold extremities can also be a sign of more serious health problems such as lupus, scleroderma, or peripheral artery disease. If you notice changes such as brittle or course hair, fatigue, and swollen extremities that occur in conjunction with your cold hand and/or feet, contact your doctor to assess your health.