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Cold exposure is a powerful experience for the body — but it’s not without some risk. Follow this guidance to stay safe.

  1. Bring warm clothes. Pack a hat, gloves, and scarf when you’re going out in the cold so you have them when you need them. “The idea is to find a little spot and hang out there for a bit — not to endanger yourself,” says rewilding teacher Kenton Whitman. “Approach it like you would doing a yoga pose.”
  2. Respect your limits. Listen to your body when approaching cold conditioning. If you have had frostbite previously or experience Raynaud’s phenomenon (a circulatory syndrome affected by cold) or have serious issues with your heart or lungs, check with your physician before trying it.
  3. Use a scarf to protect your lungs. Even if you’re deliberately exposing your body to cold, the lungs still do best with warm air. The American Lung Association recommends loosely wrapping a scarf across your nose and mouth to warm the air before it enters your lungs. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  4. Know the signs of frostbite. If you feel pins and needles, experience numbness in a particular area, or notice hard and pale skin, you may have developed frostbite. “It’s imperative to pay attention to your extremities, like hands and feet,” Whitman adds.
  5. Hydrate. “Mountaineers and mountain-rescue groups will tell you that staying hydrated is one of the most important aspects of their cold-adapting process,” he notes. “Whenever we are doing something to test our body, we want to make sure it’s in an optimal state.”

This was excerpted from “Chill Out” which was published in the October 2021 issue of Experience Life magazine.

Heidi Wachter

Heidi Wachter is an Experience Life contributing editor.

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