Commuting in the Cold: How to Stay Warm on the Walk to School

Emma Evans, ’15

It’s cold outside, but the treacherous walk from the subway to school is no shorter. Comfortably commuting in these subarctic temperatures requires dedication, contemplation and preparation. Unfortunately, most students are misinformed, believing several myths about keeping warm in the winter that only heighten the misery on their walks.

When the temperature dips below 32 degrees, keeping warm is an endeavor that begins before you even step out of your home: maintaining a desirable body temperature begins with the right breakfast. People typically assume that on a cold winter day, a hot breakfast is not complete without a warm stimulating beverage, such as coffee or tea.  Yet these hot beverages have detrimental affects on your warmth. Hot drinks trigger specific receptors on the tongue that tell the body to begin sweating (sometimes profusely) to maintain a stable temperature. Since nobody wants to be sweaty under layers of thick clothing on a crowded subway, people must rethink their breakfast choices. Instead of indulging in a hot cup of coffee, students should enjoy a restorative glass of ginger tea or a lovely gingerbread loaf cake or cookie. In several scientific studies, ginger aided the blood circulation of rats, providing the sensation of warmth, making foods containing ginger a much better breakfast choice.

Students must also consider the proper outer attire needed to embrace the cold. A warm hat, gloves, a scarf, and a heavy coat are obvious requirements. Although any brand and style will do, the color of your accessories and outer layers play a significant role in keeping you nice and toasty. Though it is true that black absorbs heat, while white reflects it, a black coat is not actually as warm as a white coat. A coat that is black on the inside will absorb the precious heat that the body produces, while a white coat will reflect the heat radiating from the skin back towards the body. A white coat keeps you warm; a black coat keeps itself warm. Yet if you are not willing to commit to a white coat, another solution is to wear a large white garbage bag under your clothes. A garbage bag layer provides sizable insulation and guarantees that a darker-colored jacket won’t rob the body of its crucial heat. 

Hand warmers are another worthwhile investment for those who get easily chilled. These small, disposable, and inexpensive devices provide long-term heat and can be used almost anywhere on the body, despite the misleading warning label. Most hand warmers are fast and effective, and with brands like “Grabbers” or “Little Hotties,” no shaking is necessary: just take them out, expose them to the air, and a pleasant heat begins to come immediately from the small packages.

Once you are fully fed with heat-inducing foods, dressed appropriately, and equipped with multiple hand-warmers, you are finally ready to embrace the cold! So good luck on the commute: we’re deep in winter, so you’ll need it!

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