Down here in South Texas, people tend to break out the parkas and long johns when the outside temperature dips below 50°F. Why? Because nobody likes being cold. And the same holds true regardless of where you live. So whether you live in balmy San Antonio or the Arctic tundra, here are some tips on when to wear long johns and thermal underwear, so you can stay you warm and, hopefully, avoid muscle strains and catching colds.
What happens to your body as the temperature drops?
• As temperatures drop to 50°F, your blood vessels narrow and reduce blood flow near the body’s surface. These blood vessels dilate and can burst, which causes numbness and redness. Your face and hands are especially vulnerable. (Maybe South Texans are on to something after all!)
• As temperatures drop below 45°F, you may experience difficult breathing while you’re out for a run or on the ski slope. Your nose tries to warm and moisturize the air as you breathe in the cold, dry air. The result? A runny nose.
• As the temperatures drop further with or without wind chill, you can easily go from discomfort to possibly life-threatening. When your core body temperature has drops about a degree below its normal temperature around 98.6°F, you may start shivering. This may be the first sign of hypothermia. If your body drops to 96°F, your motor coordination begins to fail. If your internal temperature goes to 90°F, you’re in an imminent life-threatening situation.
• And frostbite can occur when your skin is exposed and temperatures and wind chills are above zero. At -18°F, frostbite can occur on exposed skin in about 20 minutes.
Now that we know the potential dangers of the cold…
Wearing layers of clothing will keep you warm as you tackle the snow in the driveway or stack boxes in a warehouse. As your body temperature rises, you can take a layer off to stay comfortable.
Thermal underwear and long johns are perfect as the base layer to keep the body heat in and the cold out.
In addition to insulation, your thermals should be able to breathe. As you sweat, your underwear should wick the moisture away from you skin and cause you to cool down as this moisture evaporates, thus regulating your body temperature. Elite athletes and those work outside for a living would never go outside without a base layer of quality thermal underwear.
Even with long johns, sometimes, you can only venture into the great outdoors during the dead of winter for so long. Did you ever wonder long “so long” was? We did, too.
Fortunately, there’s someone in Canada who took a stab at this and created the Long John Index, a “not-scientific-whatsoever” method of measuring when, and if, one should be wearing a pair of thermal long underwear. So, if curious, check out the index.
Slip on some great looking long johns like this union suit from 2(X)IST. (No one ever said that you can’t look good, too.) Stay warm, don’t forget your hat and gloves.
When you need to layer, what do you wear? We’d love to hear from you. Comment below or on our Facebook page.