Author Topic: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?  (Read 7226 times)

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Offline madmax

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Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« on: August 22, 2014, 12:48:59 PM »
Coming back from a summer of nights in the 50's days in the low 80's (maybe) to FL's heat indexes over 100,  I got to thinking.  Do you think heat tolerance is inborn (you have it or you don't) or can anyone acclimate?
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Offline jontok

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2014, 01:00:26 PM »
I believe it's about acclimatization. You actually see it all the time with the changing of the seasons.
 
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Offline imnukensc

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2014, 01:08:42 PM »
Acclimatization.  Grew up here in the midlands of SC where our weather is similar to Florida's.  We had no AC until I was in high school and that was just a window unit in Mom and Dad's bedroom.  No AC at school.  Worked outside all summer long.  Now I can't stand to be outside for very long in the summer and if I have to be, I try to do it in the morning or late evening.
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Offline Dano

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2014, 01:13:47 PM »
Being off work as long as I have, I know acclimatization has a lot to do with it for me.  I also think some folks withstand heat or cold better than others.  I can take the heat better than the cold, but know a guy who never wears a long sleeved shirt unless there's a wind chill index.  Get the temps over about 65-70 and he's dying.

Is there a lot of difference in elevation from where you were?  I wonder if that plays anything into it?

Offline madmax

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2014, 01:28:09 PM »
Dano, it's only a couple thousand feet at most.  My wife (PE instructor) and I transition the climate change very quickly.  I know people who have lived in FL for decades that can't or won't tolerate being outside in the summer for more than a few minutes. 

 
« Last Edit: August 22, 2014, 01:35:51 PM by madmax »
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Offline U.W.

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2014, 01:52:16 PM »
For sure some folks deal better with "extreme" temperatures than others.  That aside, I would definitely say acclimatization.  I've spent time in Greenland, and I've spent time in N.Africa & "the gulf" areas.  We certainly got used to it (both the heat and the cold).
I distinctly remember PTing and running in temps over 120F, and just it wasn't a big deal at all to us.  We'd acclimated to it.
Having said that - physical condition, and age may very well affect how well, and fast, acclimating takes.

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Offline Wilderbeast

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2014, 02:05:24 PM »
Certainly a combination of inborn tolerance and acclimatization.

Personally as someone who's ancestors went through many generations of natural selection in Russian winters I tend to tolerate the cold better than the heat. 
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2014, 02:26:12 PM »
I've always tolerated the cold better than the heat.
Growing up, if the temp got over 80F I was miserable. I've lived in S.E. Asia, and Texas. Best weather for me was in Alaska. :P
That said, now that I've been here in NW Montana for well over a decade, I find myself out doing yard work when it's 95F outside.  I thought I was just "getting used to it", until I realized the humidity here at 95F was 15%-20%!  Those other places had humidity running 85%-90% even on a sunny day.
So I think acclimatization has something to do with it, as does personal physiology...but there are other factors besides just the thermometer. 
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Offline werewolf won

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2014, 02:35:06 PM »
If you have ever had a sever heat injury you are very susceptible to having another; which is why you did not see a lot of WWII Pacific Theater or Nam vets retiring to the Deep South.

I had meningitis as an infant, and ran an insanely high temperature.  I suspect it may have damaged my ability to regulate my temperature.  I frequently run a fever when exposed to extreme heat and cold.
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Offline wsdstan

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2014, 03:19:50 PM »
Heat tolerance has many extremes.  An Austrailian bushman and African bushman have thousands of years of adaptations to living in the zones their lands are in.  South Africans of European stock seem to have adapted pretty well to their environment in a few generations.  I wonder if older people like retirees who winter in Arizona stay there in the summer?   

The comment about Viet Nam vets not retiring to the deep south is interesting.  Don't know if there are any stats on where Georgia natives who retired after heat stroke in the military but it would be interesting to know.
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Offline Boreas

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2014, 03:40:33 PM »
Cody Lundin talks about conditioning the body to the cold (i.e. walking around in shorts/no shoes) by increasing the number of mitochondria in the muscle cells.  There might be such a thing for sweat glands as well.  I find I sweat earlier and more when I'm in better shape.

Offline wolfy

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2014, 03:49:24 PM »
I've lived here in Nebraska all of my 66 years and I guess if I'm not used to the weather by now, I never will be.  Just for a reference, I picked the weather extremes since 1988....the year I tricked my bride into coming back here from Atlanta to marry me. 8).  In that time frame and according to the weather station at Crofton, just upriver from me a piece, the recorded high was 105*F and the low came in at -28*F......a range of 133* :[  Humidity can be brutal here in summer, much like Florida, but it cools off in the winter, too.  8)   Precipitation can be a little 'spotty,' also....in 2012 we were officially classified as being in a zone of 'Exceptional Drought' with only 7.15" of recorded rainfall during the growing season.  That was the year of the Great Missouri River Flood when our crops burned up, but the flood waters came within 100 yds. of our farm. :doh:  This year, two years later, we have had the highest recorded rainfall since NOAA began recording it, 28.64" with another 2" predicted for tonight and tomorrow.  Mother Nature has her own way of evening things out, I guess. :rolleyes:

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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2014, 04:55:37 PM »
...

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Offline hunter63

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2014, 05:45:17 PM »
I believe it to be mostly acclimatization and age.....where you can now afford A/C, you do......but when you were you younger and tougher you couldn't afford it.

I still like hot and don't mind sweating, but it may be all the meds now....but the sweat burns my eyes.

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Offline hiwa

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2014, 07:38:05 PM »
This is a fitting post to my recent thinking lately. I live in central Alberta ( Edmonton). +30C summers , -30C winters. I grew up in a different city in Ontario , but basically the same stuff.

Now, I really love summers not having to deal with snow and ice , but this summers heat wave got me thinking , "I'm not built for this !"  I was really uncomfortable a lot of time, even though I love summer. How Ironic. Now we cooled off some and I feel a lot better overall. I really like sunny days , but moderate temperature is the most comfortable.

When the deep freeze hits , it's all about clothing though. I can temperature regulate more easily with the right clothing , but in the roast of a heat wave there is little escape  unless you confine yourself to an air conditioned zone. ( costs money if at home , and in my mind is an artificial environment - you still got to go outside and do stuff !)

I think where your born has a lot to do with it and how much time you spent there growning up.
My wife is Filipino and even though  she was born in the jungle , now feels the same way about being too hot as I do , and she can handle the extreme cold here no problem ( being here in Canada now about 23 years.)  I think your tolerance changes if you spend more time in a given environment.

Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2014, 08:14:06 PM »
This thread got me curious, so I did some checking. Doesn't answer the OP's question, but kinda interesting.

One would think that since the average person's skin temperature ranges between 85F and 98F, that air temperatures in that range would be "comfortable".  But wait a minute!  At an ambient air temp of 49F, the skin temperature is around 85F.  At an ambient temperature of 95F, it climbs to 98F!  In an effort to maintain optimal internal temperatures, the skin does all sorts of weird stuff, from puckering up (goosebumps) to sweating (evaporative cooling system).  With all the nerve endings in the skin, we feel 'hot' when we really aren't, and 'cold' when we're not.
The "feeling" of being hot, or cold is only indirectly related to our internal body temperature.  Ironically, when our internal (core) temperature drops dangerously low, we experience a feeling of well being, and drowsiness.
I'm not sure if it's current thinking, from a medical standpoint, but I was always taught that if you get so cold you stop shivering you're at death's door, and conversely, if you get so hot you stop sweating, you're in equal trouble.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.....
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Offline madmax

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2014, 08:36:48 PM »
When I first started thinking about this, it was about the odd and sometime extreme differences I see here in FL as to tolerance.  I wondered about a lot of variables and got stumped at peoples that live in extreme climates.  Like say, could a Bushman and an Inuit live in each others climate given the native skills, but not genetics.

hmmmm.

edit.  I know it appears I'm taking this down two roads with the intro of cold tolerance.  But technically there isn't cold.  Just less heat.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2014, 08:45:29 PM by madmax »
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Offline MnSportsman

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2014, 08:41:09 PM »
My vote is for "acclimatization" <Spelling?? Just "getting used to what ya have to dealwith for your body to adjust.


  The same as with elevations & your ability to absorb what oxygen is in the air. As in climbing to higher elevation.


If ya do it for a while, your body gets "Acclimatized" to the conditions.


That is "my" opinion.


"Sunburn" now , IMO...
Born & bred to the effects, from what I have seen, & experienced.. You have light skin, you gonna get burned with over-exposure & no or little protection,& there isn't a thing you can do about it; Other than getting into shade,or using some kind of "sun- protection" cream or the like.


My vote for heat is, "the getting used to it"/Acclimatization thing.
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Offline SIXFOOTER

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2014, 08:43:40 PM »
I think its summaboth. I was raised in Texas and this time year its freaking hot there, 100+ and a blast furnace from the south or west and 80%+ Humidity. Here 93* is considered way high, humidity is admittedly higher so its just as hot. I don't have a problem with heat, I can go all day in it with some active management. I know some folks here thta it never seems to bother, others if it gets over 80 they start having the vapors and they hibernate inside despite having being raised here. Some of it is got to be attitude, it, its hot so I am gonna sweat.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2014, 09:29:25 PM »
Like SIXFOOTER says, I think a lot of the intolerance to heat or cold that has reached the 'unbearable' level for a lot of people these days, has to do with more indoor jobs where people live in a constantly controlled atmosphere.  It didn't used to be THAT bad, but all you hear in summer, on our local weather & news programs, are warnings to take frequent breaks, keep hydrated, don't go out in the heat if you don't have to, wear high SPF sunscreen, don't over exert, wear light-colored loose clothing and on and on, ad infinitum!  Same goes for winter conditions. Sure, it's cold, but deal with it.  Dress for it if you have to work outside, keep a survival kit in the car and don't drive in blizzard conditions if you don't have to.   No wonder people fear & suffer with the heat or cold.....we get beat over the head with warnings at every turn! :deadhorse:

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Offline Gryphon

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #20 on: August 22, 2014, 10:28:10 PM »
Perhaps a bit of both.  I was born and grew up in snowy lands.  I first experienced HOT in the Philippines.  Yeah, Montana can see 110 in the shade once in a while.  I melted and did not solidify until I came back.  Ive hated winter since and now have lived in the desert southwest since '06.
By now I cannot stand it much below 50 and 95-100 is fine (long as I stay outta the sun, but chemo will do that to ya!
So...yeah, I acclinated.  My daughter was born in Arizona, near Tombstone...and she cant stand much below 70 degrees...105ish and shes still happy playing in the sun all day.
So...both?
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2014, 10:39:44 PM »
It was up in the 90s here for a couple of days earlier this Spring, but the humidity was very low....around 15% and it didn't seem much more than pleasantly warm to us.  Now, though, with the dewpoint up in the 70s and the temperature in the high 80s and lower to mid 90s, I have to admit that the air conditioner feels pretty danged good! 8)
« Last Edit: August 23, 2014, 10:48:41 AM by wolfy »
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Offline Old Philosopher

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #22 on: August 22, 2014, 11:09:43 PM »
Like SIXFOOTER says, I think a lot of the intolerance to heat or cold that has reached the 'unbearable' level for a lot of people these days, has to do with more indoor jobs where people live in a constantly controlled atmosphere.  It didn't used to be THAT bad, but all you hear in summer, on our local weather & news programs, are warnings to take frequent breaks, keep hydrated, don't go out in the heat if you don't have to, wear high SPF sunscreen, don't over exert, wear light-colored loose clothing and on and on, ad infinitum!  Same goes for winter conditions. Sure, it's cold, but deal with it.  Dress for it if you have to work outside, keep a survival kit in the car and don't drive in blizzard conditions if you don't have to.   No wonder people fear & suffer with the heat or cold.....we get beat over the head with warnings at every turn! :deadhorse:

If I didn't go outside when it was a bit uncomfortable, I'd never get anything done on the farm and I'd have gone broke, years ago! :shrug:

Wolfy, don't forget melanoma! According to the news, if you let the rays of the sun touch your lily white skin for more than 20 minutes, yer gonna die, brother!  :rolleyes: 
I'm amazed with how much time our forefathers spent working outside in all sorts of conditions that we all didn't mutate into something alien.

BTW, just for the record, despite the -20F in the winter and the +105F in the summer, my 'comfort zone' is 74 degrees  +/- 1.5 degrees.  Must be a function of age. :shrug:
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Offline zammer

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #23 on: August 23, 2014, 09:47:57 AM »
Its a bit of both I think as well, as has been mentioned peope in general are more used to climate controlled envirnments these days and have gone a bit soft couple that with the weather folks telling people it's soo hot or soo cold and you get what you get.

The real issue with cold or heat is how much wind or dampness/humidity, to me I am more comfortable at 20F with little wind than I am at
40F with a damp wind coming off the lake. conversely 85F ain't bad with little humidity, 75F and high humidity sucks.
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Offline diogenes

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #24 on: August 23, 2014, 11:27:05 AM »
I'm thinking both, too. A couple summers ago I was out ever day working in the 100's. The past few days we've just finally had those kind of temps and it's been beating me up pretty good. Yesterday was 16 hours! so I'm pretty bushed today.

That said, Finn (my pup) never whines about how cold or wet it gets. The only time he didn't want to be outside was when it got to 15 below zero. He's not a big fan of the heat though. I know part of that has to do with the fact that dogs don't sweat to dissipate heat. But I've seen other dogs with less tolerance for cold or more for heat.
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Offline Orbean

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #25 on: January 29, 2016, 08:04:48 AM »
I would think it is both, I grew up in the high desert so I have little trouble handling high temps, however humidity ruins me.
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Offline Yeoman

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #26 on: January 29, 2016, 12:01:39 PM »
Like so many physiological and psychological traits/attributes, I think heat (or cold) tolerance is partly genetic and partly environmental.
My nephew's little pal is half-Inuit. This kid's Dad grew up with me. He's lived his whole life here Atlantic Canada and complains as soon as the weather hits 15C. Think of someone believing that Maine is too hot. In winter, this kid is pretty much happy with a t-shirt and hoody. He over-heats wearing a toque and pretty much cannot wear mitts. It took a few years for his paternal grandmother to come to grips with the fact that her grandsons just could not be wrapped up like other kids.
Now, I'm of basically Irish decent. I'm generally pretty happy in the summer in the North East. Florida in the summer, not so good. If my buddy's kid was in Florida in the summer he might concievably have medical issues.
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Offline Dude McLean

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #27 on: January 29, 2016, 06:35:57 PM »
as a kid no one had ac... the schools had no ac... up thru high school and this was in the San Fernando valley in Soca temps from 90 to 105   not humid ... but the heat got to those who were not used to it... no matter if you spend the majoity of time in an ac cooled house office you ill not adjust to the heat in a few minutes...

 if you notice in old pictutres no matter the heat most of tyhe men had long sleeves... my dad was a contractor and seldom wore a a short sleeve shirt ...a 100 yerars ago when i was in gthe Corps and stationed in 29 stumps (palms) ca in the high dez the weekend warriors would come in in the heat of summer 115 deghrees and we would take bets on how many would collapse in a certain time period ...meanwhile we were running the grinder around them and no one would drop out... they were just marching if one could call it that..

 mean while back at the  ranch i have noticed i cannot take the extreme heat like i did when i was younger , same for the cold.  but 80 is rushing at me really fast.. your youth is a sad  thing to lose... humid just saps me right now ... but here it seldom is humid..but the heat will knock most down if you do not build up to it...old story .. look at those lazy indains taking a nap in the middle of the day ... indian look at those stupid whitemen marching in the heat of the day ...  many times the moon is so bright in the high dez you can hike at night with no problem... Wolfy said in the heat he gets things done early morning ot late evening .. that works here as well...

 I do think some have a  dna for heat or cold but still ya have to work up to it... i had a buddy in the Corps and if we were on a work party he would sweat buckets ..the gunny would come along and go .. well if all of you worked like him we would be done by now... he sweat if he  just sat up and moved two feet...in the dez most of the sweat evaporates so fast on most of us you really do not see it... except your shirt might be soaking wet.but that helped cool you down...

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Offline NewEnglandBushcraft

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #28 on: January 29, 2016, 09:32:38 PM »
I have experienced cold and dry, cold and humid, hot and dry, as well as hot and humid.

Humidity seems to make a big difference in what the temperature "feels like" to us. A combination of high heat (<85 F) and high humidity (<80%) makes for a most miserable experience for me. It is for that reason that I typically do not camp as much in the summer. I'll make early morning day hikes to take advantage of the cooler temperatures, but the heat of midday when the humidity hangs in the air like a poltergeist that won't go away, things get bad pretty quick for me, because the body's natural method for cooling off (perspiration/sweating) is nullified...there's simply too much humidity in the air to be able to be comfortable.

That said, immigrants from tropical climates seem to be completely at home in these conditions. I envy them. I will say that 2 years ago, I decided to conduct an experiment with myself, to see if it was possible for me to adapt to the hot and humid weather - I restricted myself from the air conditioner. What I found was that, though it took longer than I liked, I was indeed able to adapt to the conditions, well enough so that I could exert myself hiking in the heat of the day without exhaustion. I theorise that if I lived in a localised environment (home) without fancy climate control settings (thermostat and AC), over time, I should be able to adapt quite well. My brother experienced this acclimation during his 2 years in Okinawa, Japan, with the USMC (III MEF). He came back to the States in leave during the autumn and remarked how chilly it was at 50 F, putting on a sweater. Both he, me, and our mother adapt rather well to colder conditions (it took him a whole season to get used to our sub-temperate climate again after Okinawa). I don't think it comes from our ancestry/genetics, since we don't have Nordic, Russian, or Inuit roots.

I have been to the deserts of Arizona, Utah, and southern California. I miss the desert. I miss the fact that 98 F in Salt Lake City around sunset felt COOL. I experienced a rather new concept - my sweat actually evaporated, thus cooling me off!! Hurray :D!! But out here in the East, even with a very light, loose, synthetic shirt, sweat will stick and stay on the body because the air is too humid. Even the triple digits in southern California felt bearable. I could walk around being fairly comfortable and not suffer from exhaustion caused by excessive humidity.

As for the cold, I already stated that my family acclimates well to a cold winter. When I was younger, I used to dress in shorts and a t-shirt in January with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark, and not feel cold. I would feel cool, but not uncomfortable. This used to scare several of my school teachers, though they became less concerned once I told them time and time again that I was not "cold" outside. I guess it helped that I liked to spend a lot of time outdoors in the winter. All of us at home loved snow (except my uncle, a postman :D). I probably spent more time outdoors in the winter during my childhood than spring and summer. I loved to play in the snow, throw snowballs at the plow trucks >:D, at my older brother :banana:, build snow forts, and various snow shelters. To me, snow was the new "mud", so-to-speak :). Now, the drier things got, the more I would suffer wheezing from inhaling too much cold, dry air. With higher humidity during winter (such as during a snowstorm), I was all-systems-go.  :banana:

I think anyone has the capability to adapt to the weather conditions anywhere on the planet. Victor of Aveyron was a feral child found wandering the woods near Saint-Sernin-sur-Rance, France. The boy was well acclimated to the cold, as he was reported to dance about in excitement in the snow, completely naked, under observation from his scientist captors. We, as a species, are among the most adaptable creatures to ever walk the Earth, and we have made settlements on every continent. We may not be tardigrades and tuns, but spending more time outdoors contributes a lot to how our bodies adjust to the weather conditions of our environments. Staying inside our climate-controlled buildings does us little good. We get accustomed to the comfort of 70-75F and feel cold outside during the winter, and feel too hot outside in the summer.



"Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." ~ Abraham Lincoln
My blog, https://newenglandbushcraft.wordpress.com/

Offline PetrifiedWood

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #29 on: January 29, 2016, 09:42:34 PM »
I moved to a temperate climate from a sub-tropical climate. I am much more comfortable here. For short periods outdoors, I prefer extreme cold to extreme heat. But for long stretches outdoors I'd prefer moderate heat to moderate cold.

Offline wsdstan

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Re: Heat Tolerance. Born or Bred?
« Reply #30 on: January 29, 2016, 10:41:40 PM »
I seem to notice that the first cold snaps of each year are tougher to work in than the later ones even though they are colder.  We seem to just get used to it.  I believe it is a partly adaptive and a little bit genetic.
 
I prefer cold weather to hot weather but prefer 65F to 80F to both cold and hot.  Mostly because of my age I think.  You find me wearing flip flops and shorts to the market in February.

Watching Wolfy's video of the Inuit in the arctic I was left thinking that they were as well adapted to a harsh environment as could be. We all might wonder if we were given the skills they possess could we survive in the same manner they do?  I think we could.

A man who carries a cat by the tail learns  something he can learn in no other way. 
(Mark Twain)