Hot Topics     Home and Family     Healthy Kids    

Baby It's Cold Outside! Let's visit grandma anyway.



Enjoy Professor Popsicle's crazy views on having fun in the cold

Professor Popsicle explains mindset is critical to enduring cold

Seeing grandparents during the recent December holidays was difficult. Many seniors, like 72-year old Marian Koch of Pennsylvania, had to make tough decisions about seeing family and friends. Koch ultimately chose to host her kids and grandkids on her front porch. It was great, except it was cold.

Enter Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht a.k.a. Professor Popsicle. Giesbrecht, the environmental physiologist and director of the University of Manitoba's Laboratory for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, is a self-proclaimedcold-hater. Strong words, but the professor has made it his life's work to understand "cold". 

As Outside Magazine notes, "Giesbrecht didn't become the world's leading authority on hypothermia by sitting around the campfire. He got there by leaping into frozen lakes, injecting ice water into his veins, and taking lots of very, very cold baths."

He has conducted hundreds of cold water immersion studies and has even lowered his body temperature below 95 degrees, the threshold for hypothermia. All of this has provided valuable information about cold stress physiology and pre-hospital care for human hypothermia.


He claims there is a psychology of cold. Think about how cold you feel on the first chilly day after summer. Now think about the same temp in the beginning of spring. Even though the temperatures are similar, Giesbrecht opines that we feel it differently. 

"We acclimatize not only throughout the season, like weeks and months, but also hours and days", says Giesbrecht. He also talks about our attitude towards cold. If you are sure you will be cold, you probably will be. A great way to combat that is to think of the positive aspects of what you are doing out in the cold. And, of course, wearing warm clothing is critical.

Giesbrecht claims that it is actually pretty hard to induce hypothermia. First, watch out for shivering. Shivering for a minute or two will warm you up. If you continue to shiver for 15 minutes or more, it is most likely a sign you need to get indoors and take time to warm up.

Frostbite is another thing to be aware of. Knowing when it is setting in can be tricky. "Never accept numbness," Giesbrecht advises. If anything feels numb you need to get warmed now.

Grandma Koch and her family kept a positive attitude, served hot drinks and food while they were outside, and dressed warmly. All in all she says her family had a wonderful time despite the cold.



Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • Pandemic parenting made easier

    3 simple tips to help you get through the homestretch

    At the risk of oversimplifying multi-faceted problems, corporate psychologist Kate Snowise boils it down to three tips that can solve a multitude of parenting ills. read more »
  • s-NO-w Day

    The world won't come to a halt if you spend the snow day with your kids

    Peter Shankman offers some great advice on what to do with that surprise snow day read more »
  • Three books to encourage healthy outdoor play

    Great ideas to help kids get outside

    A fun journey with a grandma and granddaughter, nature play and how to create areas to connect children with the natural world read more »
  • Mindfulness for parents

    Keep it together by letting go

    Even when there’s no pandemic, keeping yourself together for your family can be a challenge. With the added stresses of Covid, it may be time to give mindfulness a try. read more »
  • Words to soothe the angry child

    The right phrase can make all the difference

    Pandemic or no, children can get really mad, really fast. The folks at motherly offer some strategic phrases that can help de-escalate any number of situations, from toddler-hood to the teen years. It’s never too early to teach anger management. read more »
  • Tips to keep your teen active in lockdown

    Physical activity is more crucial than ever

    Wintertime isolation during Covid makes physical activity even more of a challenge, but it’s important for everyone, especially teens, to get the blood flowing, here are some helpful tips. read more »
  • Mental Health help is just a phone call away

    List of mental health centers and phone numbers

    The pandemic has affected the mental health of millions of Americans. You are not alone and help can be had by making a phone call read more »
  • 5 tips to help regulate your emotions

    Modeling your stress response for your kids is important

    The kids are always watching, especially in these stressful times, when most are home much more than ever. When the inevitable stressful situation arises, here are some tips on how to manage emotions constructively. read more »
  • Tips for teaching kids mindfulness

    It’s never too early or too late to start

    The prospect of teaching mindfulness techniques to children can be daunting. Meggie Seaver at Real Simple offers tips to help make it easy. read more »
  • Tips for balancing working from home with remote learning

    A few tweaks in your routine will do wonders

    Some experts – including parents – offer some helpful “hacks” to help you achieve work/parenting balance read more »