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Baby It's Cold Outside! Let's have fun 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 pandemic has been 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-proclaimed cold-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.



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