Even if you don’t have the hearty genes of a Yakut, you can still learn to love—or at least tolerate—the cold. There are always “behavioral adaptations,” like putting on warm clothing or going for brisk walks. Ollie Jay, a professor in thermoregulatory physiology at the University of Sydney, once lived in Ottawa, one of the coldest capital cities on earth. “My first year there, I was miserable in the cold in the winter,” he told me. “The best thing I ever did was spend $7.50 on a fleece thing that could cover my nose, cheeks, and ears. It made such a difference to my level of discomfort.”
Jay told me that people can psychologically adapt to the temperature outside if they are exposed to it for about 10 days or more. That’s why those last few 40-degree March days feel so much warmer than the first 40-degree day of November. He and others have found that people who are exposed to the cold more often tend to shiver less and felt less cold, which suggests that their bodies got better at keeping them warm from the inside.
“As you become more acclimated to the cold, your body becomes more effective at delivering warm blood to the extremities, your core temperature goes up, and all that contributes to being more resistant to the cold,” Leonard told me.