6 Ways Cold Weather Is Good For Your Health Sometimes That'll Help You Hate Winter A Little Less
Please excuse me while I quickly interrupt your holly jolly holiday season celebrations, but guys, Jan. 1 is only days away, and it’s cold outside. But before you go cursing Mother Nature for making temperatures drop and your noses run, rumor has it that, contrary to popular belief, brisk conditions aren’t necessarily what’s so troubling to your immune system this time of year. In other words, you don’t have to be weary of winter, because cold weather can actually be good for your health sometimes, not detrimental. Of course, that isn’t to say you shouldn’t still bundle up when the dial on your thermostat's chillin’ at the below-freezing line; it just means it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to embrace 30 degrees and under every once in awhile.
I don’t know about you, but sweater weather has always been my jam. What can I say? Jack Frost and I are kindred spirits. Still, I understand why a lot of people have gripes with winter: The cold isn’t exactly comfortable, and it just so happens that cold and flu seasons are at their peak when the outdoor temperatures at their lowest. Plus, Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist and spokesperson for Theraflu, tells Elite Daily that “the cold weather also brings people indoors and in contact with each other much more frequently,” which is what ultimately leads to the spread of germs, and can increase your chances of catching these bugs.
Still, there are health benefits to spending time in the cold weather on occasion. So even though you might not want to hang outside 24/7 come wintertime, here are a few reasons why getting a little bit of that brisk, fresh air can be good for your health.
The Cold Weather Can Cause A Spike In Your Immune System
You might assume that, once the weather changes, your immune system is shot to hell. Don't get me wrong: Cold and flu season is no joke, and you should absolutely take every precautionary measure you can to avoid catching something. But, according to Robert Glatter, M.D., an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital, Northwell Health, your body could actually benefit from being exposed to the cold weather conditions in some ways.
"Your immune system gets an extra boost with onset of colder weather, leading to a better ability to fight off infection," he explains, because "certain sub-populations of white blood cells actually increase in order to respond to bacteria, viruses, and systemic inflammation."
Colder Conditions Are Ideal For A Good Night's Sleep
There's a reason why winter is hibernation season. Glatter tells Elite Daily that, naturally, your body is able to sleep better in colder weather, seeing as how, in warmer temperatures, it has to "expend energy to cool itself down in order to fall asleep," he explains. But in colder temperatures, you're able to both physically and mentally relax more easily, and wind down more quickly, because your body is working more efficiently.
Exercising In The Cold Can Improve Your Cardio Performance
If you're the type of person to transition from outdoor activities to indoor exercises at the first sign of a winter chill, Glatter suggests giving outside workouts a fair shot from time to time, despite the cold weather conditions.
"Assuming you don’t have risk factors for heart disease," he explains, "the cold temperatures can actually help improve your cardiovascular endurance and reserve, since you have to expend more energy to not only maintain your core temperature, but also keep your muscles well-perfused and oxygenated."
Pollen Allergies Are At An All Time Low In The Winter
Got outdoor allergies? It's a good thing wintertime conditions keep you indoors then, huh? Aside from the fact that you're likely spending cold days cooped up inside, Glatter tells Elite Daily that pollen counts are pretty low this time of year, leading to "potentially improved breathing."
Research Says You'll Concentrate Better In The Cold
According to a 2005 study published in the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Journal of Undergraduate Research, room temperature may affect your ability to concentrate. As per the study's findings, colder temperatures appear to be correlated with better performance, even though warmer temperatures are obviously preferred in terms of comfort. So your body might not appreciate the cold, but evidently, your brain does.
The Cold Can Ease Inflammation
Remember when you were little, and you'd bump your head, or smack your own face when opening a door (just me?), and your mom or dad would tell you to put ice on it before the area swelled like a balloon? It turns out, chillin' in cold weather conditions can ease inflammation in the same way. According to Medical News Daily, cold temperatures help to reduce inflammation, but if hanging out in chilly temps isn't really something you're interested in, that old ice pack trick will still work wonders.