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(WGN Radio) — Depending on where you live, you may be experiencing some of the coldest days of the season. If you aren’t there yet, don’t worry — winter technically hasn’t even started yet.
As you bundle up before heading outside to face Old Man Winter, you may find yourself adding more layers than your kids or even more than when you were a kid.
But why is it that we seem to feel colder as we grow older?
There are a few reasons, Dr. Kevin Most, Chief Medical Officer at Northwestern Medicine’s Central DuPage Hospital, told WGN Radio’s Bob Sirott.
When we’re younger, we have more muscle mass and body fat, which keeps us warmer. We also have better circulation than when we are older. It’s like having insulation in your home.
“As we age, our skin is a lot thinner, so it loses heat a lot easier,” Most explained, adding that we also have less fat and muscle mass the older we get.
“So that senior who’s wearing the sweater, there’s reasons for it,” he continued. “As you age, know that [feeling colder is] a normal part of aging.”
You can listen to Dr. Most’s conversation with Bob Sirott using the audio player below.
There are some things you can do to counteract this unfortunate side effect of aging, including staying active.
“As much as you can, try to keep your muscle mass up, because we know that as we use muscles, that generates heat, and again, it’ll keep us warm,” Most said. He recommends light weightlifting and walking and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle.
It’s also important to stay hydrated, Most noted.
Water can help keep you “well lubricated,” making your joints move more easily. That can, in turn, make staying active easier.
You can also, of course, dress for the weather. According to Dr. Ken Koncilja, a geriatric medicine specialist with Cleveland Clinic, frostbite is common in older adults and may set in quickly. He recommends wearing warm materials in winter, such as wool gloves and socks.
Major temperature changes tend to occur when we reach our 70s and 80s, according to Cleveland Clinic. If you have temperature intolerances earlier, it could be a sign of a medical condition, such as thyroid diseases or neurodegenerative diseases.
If you have any concerns, you should contact your doctor.