7 Health Benefits of Cold Weather
Now that the thermostat is dropping and sweater weather has arrived (or is at least well on its way in many geographical areas), let’s try to look on the bright side. Cold weather, believe it or not, has quite a number of positives in the form of health benefits. Read on to learn how the cold can actually help you feel better!
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
1. Bye-bye, Zika!
Mosquitoes transmit Zika, West Nile, dengue and other assorted diseases when they’re infected with the diseases and bite you. There are two types of mosquitoes that spread disease: the Culex and Aedes aegypti and albopictus, according to CNN. Because the Aedes and Culex mosquitoes aren’t “active” (i.e., they’re hibernating) when it’s below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, your chances of contracting these diseases through a mosquito bite diminish considerably.
2. You burn more calories.
Our bodies are padded with two kinds of fat: white fat and brown fat. While white fat is the largest energy reserve in the body, brown fat burns calories to generate heat. A study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation examined the metabolism of six healthy men after exposing them to cold (without making them shiver). After the experiment they found that their brown fat burned white fat and the subjects’ resting energy expenditure — meaning metabolism — increased by 80 percent, according to The New York Times.
3. You fall asleep more easily.
Your body temperature rises and falls during any 24-hour period. It’s usually highest in the early afternoon and lowest at the crack of dawn. As your body prepares to sleep, it loses heat as you get drowsy, explains Dr. Cameron Van den Heuvel in a University of South Australia article about insomnia. He goes on to say that studies of sleep-onset insomniacs have warmer core body temperatures than normal healthy adults. One way to bring on sleep is to lower the room temperature. Similarly, as reported in Time, a study of insomniacs performed by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that people who suffer from insomnia have more action going on in the frontal lobes of their brains — the planning part — hence the common complaint about the inability to turn off their brains. By literally cooling off their heads, the study subjects fell asleep almost as fast as those without insomnia.
4. It helps you to think more clearly.
The glucose in our bodies helps our mental agility and regulates our internal body temperatures. So when we’re in hot or cold climates, the glucose in our bodies adjusts accordingly to regulate things. According to Scientific American, warm temperatures force our bodies to use up tons of glucose to keep cool and thus can “adversely affect our decision-making abilities.”
5. It reduces muscle inflammation.
As published in The Atlantic, the National Institute of Sport, Expertise and Performance (based in Paris) examined seasoned runners with muscle damage for three weeks. Using three forms of therapy — cryotherapy (exposure to temps as cold as -166°F), far infrared (aka heat therapy) or good old-fashioned rest — they monitored the runners healing processes. Their findings? Cryotherapy returned the athletes to maximum muscle strength faster than the other therapies. Of course, those with heart issues are best kept warm because blood vessels narrow in the cold.
6. It helps keep your skin clear.
According to StyleCaster, cold weather can act as an astringent, tightening pores, reducing the likelihood of clogs and leaving you less prone to breakouts. It also slows and prevents the secretion of sebum (the skin’s natural waxy oils produced by the sebaceous glands), helping keep shiny skin and acne at bay. Also, just as cryotherapy is said to slow aging and add a youthful glow, a walk outside in the cold can do the same.
7. Exercising outside can stave off seasonal affective disorder.
Sure, it gets dark at 4 p.m. That in and of itself can be a real bummer. But if you find yourself succumbing to the winter doldrums, an outdoor winter workout can be mighty medicinal. In an article about the benefits of cold-weather workouts in Vogue, the one-two punch of the sun’s spirit-lifting rays and exercise endorphins can boost your mood significantly.
What Do YOU Think?
What's your favorite thing about cold weather? Were you surprised by anything in this slideshow? Let us know in the comments section!
- CNN: Where the Zika mosquitoes are hiding and how to stop them
- Journal of Clinical Investigation: Brown adipose tissue oxidative metabolism contributes to energy expenditure during acute cold exposure in humans
- New York Times: Brown Fat, Triggered by Cold or Exercise, May Yield a Key to Weight Control
- Time: Tip for Insomniacs: Cool Your Head to Fall Asleep
- University of South Australia: Getting to the core of insomnia
- The Atlantic: Study of the Day: Cold Can Help Runners Recover From Exercise
- PLOS One: Effects of Whole-Body Cryotherapy vs. Far-Infrared vs. Passive Modalities on Recovery from Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage in Highly-Trained Runners
- StyleCaster: 5 Ways Cold Weather Actually Helps Your Skin
- Vogue: Cold Play: Exercise Outside to Prevent Winter Weight Gain and Seasonal Blues
- oneinchpunch/Adobe Stock