Hats, mittens, layered clothing keep winter's icy blasts at bay


December 04, 1990|By Dr. Gabe Mirkin | Dr. Gabe Mirkin,United Feature Syndicate

History books may say that the Russians beat Napoleon, but it was frostbite and French surgeons who really did him in. During the day, Napoleon's troops marched in the bitter cold, freezing their fingers and toes. During the night, the French surgeons rubbed snow on the frostbitten extremities, causing so much tissue damage that many soldiers had to have fingers and toes amputated.

If Napoleon's troops had been able to dress differently for the cold, history might have turned out differently.

If the outdoor temperature is 20 degrees, more than 40 percent of your body heat will be lost as it escapes from your head. At 5 degrees, more than 70 percent of the heat loss will come from your head. It makes sense to wear a warm woolen hat that can be pulled down over your ears and to cover your neck with a scarf.

To protect your fingers, mittens are better than gloves because your fingers will warm each other in the same mitten compartment. The fingers in a glove warm only the individual compartments so that more heat is lost through your hands.

On very cold days, you need to cover more than your fingers, ears and toes. You also need to take extra precautions to protect the rest of your body. If you don't, you could lose so much body heat that you could die.

Wear several layers of clothes to provide maximum insulation. The more you layer your clothes, the more air is trapped in each layer,and air is an excellent insulator.

Q: I've been trying to convince my fiancee to work out with me at my health club, but she is convinced that training with weights is bad for women. Is that true?

A: No. All women can benefit from lifting weights.

The National Strength and Conditioning Association has produced guidelines stating that women should use the same methods to train for strength that are used by men. The recommendations are supported by 161 references in scientific literature.

Women should focus their weight training on parts of their bodies that are usually weaker in women than in men -- the upper arms, particularly the triceps muscle at the back of the upper arm, and the lower back. Here are some tips:

*Pick 10 to 20 exercises and try to lift the heaviest weight you can lift comfortably eight consecutive times. Do this every other day.

*As you grow stronger, try lifting the same weight nine, 10, 11, then 12 times.

*When you can lift the weight 12 consecutive times, add 5 to 10 pounds to your lift and reduce the number of consecutive lifts back to eight.

*Dr. Mirkin is a practicing physician in Silver Spring specializing in sports medicine and nutrition.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.