How to Actively Prepare for When “Winter Is Coming”

Print Friendly

Moving to Norway? Iceland. Maybe Minnesota, where they have three seasons, Winter, Winter, Winter and Construction?

Or maybe you just want to prepare for global climate change in general, cause, well, um.

If you are a delicate desert flower that can endure temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit barely breaking a sweat, just the thought of moving up north likely makes you shiver. Or maybe, sub 30-degree temperatures actually make you sweat more.

Whatever your case may be, let Lord Eddard Stark’s sage advice put you at ease, “Brace yourselves. Winter is coming.” Unlike the trials in Game of Thrones, preparing your body for cold climates, though a feat, can be quite fun.

There are many ways to prepare your body for acclimating to frigid weather conditions; everything from ice baths to eating ice cream. So, how do you prepare? I promise, it’s not as bad as you think.

Ice Baths?


Yes. Ice Baths. Though typically used by athletes for post-workout recovery and injury therapy, ice baths for acclimation, other than just moving to the region and gutting it through, stand resolute as the quickest, most effective way to prepare your body for a major climate shift.

By easing your body into freezing temperatures for short stints, you train your internal temperature gauge to compensate for varying climates. When taking an ice bath, a key aspect to remember is that cold slows your system down by reducing blood flow. This is why when you move vigorously in cold temperatures, your body warms up. Basic science. Therefore, when climbing into your bath, especially for the first time, ease into the temperature change recommended by your machine’s individual instructions. Do not assume colder is better, especially in the beginning. Trust your body’s signals and allow it ample time to adapt. In fact, cold showers are an excellent step towards climbing into a large tub of ice.

After 5 to 8 minutes of exposure in your tub, climb out and dry off. Though you will be tempted to warm up immediately, just as you eased yourself into the cold, be sure to allow your body the chance to gradually warm after each exposure. This will condition your system to warm naturally in cold weather and eventually gauge the cooler temperatures as normal.

A full list of cold therapy tips is outlined by acclaimed coach Andy Schmitz in his article 8 Ice Bath Do’s and Don’ts. Though specifically designed for athletes, his exposure tips will surely help you if ice baths are a route you choose to take.

Be sure to read your ice machine’s instructions. Keeping your ice machine clean prevents buildup to maintain an efficient production rate. This will also help it produce more shapely cubes. Compacted ice stays colder longer, so you’ll get more bang for your buck.

Eat colder foods.

Ice Cream, Smoothies, Freeze Pops, the list goes on forever. Frozen dessert is by far the easiest way to begin your acclimation. Not only will consumption teach you to moderate your taste buds, but, with the reinforcement of brain freeze, you will learn–and extend–your cold tolerance threshold. This will give you a rough measure of your personal acclimation progress as you implement the ice bath method.

However, this advice is not a license to throw your diet out the window—especially one prescribed by a doctor. That said, gaining a few extra pounds during this eating process will provide you with slightly more insulation, a crucial aspect to sustaining warmth in colder climates. Further, with the warmer clothes you’ll undoubtedly be wearing, an ice cream sandwich or two will actually aid you in filling out that sweater from Aunt Betsy. Up to you whether this is a good thing.

Climate Clothes Climax

Speaking of sweaters: shopping for proper winter attire is essential in your prep. If you are moving from a southern region—specifically a place where lizards bask in the sun all day or monkeys do their Tarzan routine—you are not likely to have a thick knit cap let alone a pair of snow shoes. As you’re packing your bags, be sure to leave the shorts and remember the parka.

Learn the art of layering. Layering will be your best friend as you’re acclimating. Long underwear, leggings, thermal undershirts, and waterproof socks are your key base layers. After that, indoor apparel usually consists of sweaters and the occasional hat. Outdoor apparel often consists of your typical Christmas movie apparel: a woolen trench or pea coat—unless you go the parka route—a thick hat, flannel or fur-lined gloves, insulated boots, and a sturdy scarf. All of these items are available for purchase online or in your local store up north—unless you’re moving to an igloo park. (Just kidding. That’s not a thing.)

Into the Wild [White] Yonder

Moving up north or enduring extreme climate change may seem a cautionary tale, but if care is taken, your body will adjust to the harsher climate. With your new snow shod experiences, you will soon see just how wonderfully ice transforms ordinary landscaping. In time, you will come to enjoy your new way of life. Until then, sip your coco and let your eyes rove over the gently wafting boughs of the newly crystal laden trees.


  1. R. Ann

    August 2, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    Iceland doesn’t much get above 55F, but i also doesn’t much get below 30-32F, either. Although it rains pretty much 2/3 of the year, so if you’re acclimating to Iceland, the shower thing probably isn’t a terrible idea.

    While extremes do take acclimatization, temperature is relative most of the time.
    Hike around at 85F with 85% humidity, and 35% or 65F feel pretty good.
    Start doing manual labor in 95F in the MidAtlantic or go hiking 90-110 in the Southwest, when the temperature drops 30 degrees at night, you get cool.
    You get used to cold just like you get used to heat (and the HVAC system).

    Rather than try to shock your body (oh, and please note the “start slow” suggestion in the article and see a doc before jumping in an ice tub) if you think you’re suddenly going to be thrust into cold conditions, own pants loose enough to layer and carry a single 4-6″x10-16″ bundle that can prevent a lot of discomfort:
    Proper thermals (silks are pricey but thin and warm) and a decent rain suit.
    It’ll fit in nearly any bag or desk drawer (I have a 36″ inseam and a rain suit big enough to go over coveralls – it’ll fit in nearly any bag – really).
    Creating a warm layer and then the insulation of air protected by the rain suit will get you through most situations.

    The better-yet solution is to dress for cold in layers you can readily remove as you heat up to avoid sweating.
    There’s no need to even try to shock your body into learning. This isn’t athletes sucking in high-altitude air so their lungs process more and they can put off anaerobic work longer at lower altitude. You talk yourself into the tub, then, what? Get used to the mall, car, and airplane temp? To then re-shock your body again?

    I’d have really loved to see some … something … here. Citations on the theories possibly. Maybe why this kind of behavior would ever be recommended outside of trying to keep Peyton Manning’s body from swelling beyond all ability to walk and talking SEALs into mentally quitting.

    Rebecca Ann

    • Wild Bill

      August 2, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      Ah yes, the geography lesson from 6th grade comes to mind “Iceland is really green and was named Iceland to scare away settlers as Greenland is really ice and had an advertising committee that worked previously in politics” 😉

      • R. Ann

        August 2, 2017 at 8:30 pm

        Nice. I’m going to have to remember that one.

  2. R. Ann

    August 3, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Take II (I understand and yet hate the moderation thing for a single link):

    Hey, boss man,
    It was brought up to me as a question on the publishing point due to my background. You’ve got an istockphoto image in this article. There are sources for stock photos that do a subscription or by-item sale, or some like morguefile dot com that depending on your profit status may be free.

    Some of the authors may not be aware of the difference between open source, pay per, why some of those photos have the big X’s or watermark trademark through them (those haven’t been purchased), or when accreditation is necessary in those cases, so you may need to look close if pics get submitted with images or you may find yourself in a copyright situation.

    Rebecca Ann

  3. Nahreen

    August 18, 2017 at 6:42 am

    The article is really nice and I am very much impressed by the article….!!!

Leave a Reply