Scientists assure Midwesterners they can get used to the cold

Feb. 8, 2014 at 10:51 AM
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CHICAGO, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- A Chicago researcher says people actually do get used to cold weather, the kind folks across a large swath of the United States are experiencing this winter.

Peter Doran of the University of Illinois at Chicago says the human body will naturally adjust to the cold so it can function.

"You are feeling it here now," Doran told the Chicago Tribune this week as Windy City temperatures climbed into the 30s. "People seem better attuned."

After a long stint of sub-zero temps, weather around the freezing mark might seem almost balmy to many people -- because they have unknowingly physically and mentally adjusted to the conditions, he said.

"There are certain physiological responses to combat cold, and those responses become perfected and we call that cold weather acclimatization," said G. Edgar Folk, a professor emeritus of physiology at the University of Iowa. "You train the skin. There are blood vessels there that keep the heat in."

Some scientists said people living in chronically cold areas such as Siberia tend to have developed a higher metabolism that warm-weather dwellers, which produces more body heat.

That's good early-February news for Midwesterners, who nevertheless aren't entirely accustomed to Arctic life.

"I've been here all my life, but as used to it as I am, it's still hard to deal with," bundled-up Chicagoan Tyrell Porter told the Tribune in the city's South Loop area.

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