In November, Prince Harry plans to walk 200 miles to the South Pole as part of a race for charity with disabled veterans. To prepare for the trek, he recently spent 20 hours in a special chamber that was cooled to 30 degrees below zero. Inside, the prince and his team exercised and slept as manmade winds gusted up to 45 miles per hour.
Harry's long night in the freezer may have offered some mental benefits, giving him practice with his gear and confidence that he will be able to survive the trek. But, experts said, enduring one night of cold months before a sub-zero event is unlikely to help anyone's body prepare for an extended adventure near the poles.
In fact, studies show that it often takes weeks for our bodies to adapt to cold temperatures. Even then, the human body is far worse at acclimatizing to frigid conditions than it is to heat or altitude.
"Ultimately, we are a heat-adapted species," said Josh Snodgrass, an anthropologist at the University of Oregon, Eugene. "Even populations we think of as quintessentially cold-adapted, like Siberians or the Inuit, are not that far removed from human ancestors that adapted to heat. Our bodies are just not as good at dealing with cold."