Here's How Winter Affects Your Body, According To Experts, Because It's More Than Just Dry Skin
I only have one friend who loves winter. As soon as the temperature falls below about 50 degrees, she pulls out her impressive beanie collection and ventures out into the icy air. Honestly, I can't relate, because I'd choose lounging on a beach over trekking through the snow any day. Not only does my nose seem to perpetually run during the winter months, but no matter how much lotion I apply to my hands, it seems like they're always dry enough to make me grouchy. I could go on and on, really, because the weird ways winter affects your body are enough to make me want to hibernate all season long, TBH.
Chances are, you probably already know that the frigid temperatures of the winter season can dry out your skin and send you searching for the most moisturizing face mask you can find in your bathroom cabinets, but there are also plenty of winter side effects that you might not expect. For example, the cold weather can actually impact your heart's activity — pretty freaky, right? Here are a couple of very interesting (hey, I'm trying my best to be positive here) things to look out for during these super chilly months.
You might get dehydrated
It's pretty easy to remember to drink water in July when you're sweating bullets and braving the hot sun. But in the colder months, you might be more likely to think you don't need to drink as much. "Stay well-hydrated," says board-certified pediatrician Alison Mitzner, M.D. "Often in the winter, many forget to keep drinking water, but it is just as important in the winter."
If you're already too cold to down some ice water, reach for a cup of chamomile tea or even just some hot lemon water.
You might crash during the afternoon
The first thing I always want to do whenever I get extra cold in the winter is pile every blanket in my apartment on top of my body so I can snooze the afternoon away. Having fewer hours of sunlight in the winter can cause fatigue, says Lindsay Raffaele, a certified holistic health and nutrition coach and founder of Finely Nourished, so to get your energy levels back up, she recommends switching from coffee to hot green tea.
"Green tea has less of a 'crash' than coffee, and will help you get over the midday slump," Raffaele tells Elite Daily. "This is especially helpful during the winter months when the sun is setting earlier in the day."
Your blood pressure can fluctuate
"Another more severe way that winter can affect your body is your heart," Dr. Mitzner tells Elite Daily. "In the cold, your blood vessels narrow, and so your heart needs to pump harder to get the blood flow through the constricted vessels. Your blood pressure therefore can increase, and more serious is risk of angina, heart attack, or stroke."
While this is a more serious issue for older people, folks of all ages should be aware, she says. "Be sure to take breaks to come indoors, rest when needed, and don’t overexert yourself out in the cold. Be sure to contact your physician if you have any chest pain."
Your muscles may get tighter
If you're determined to keep up your running habit throughout the coldest months of the year, that's awesome. Just keep in mind that your muscles do tend to tighten up in the cold weather, says Dr. Mitzner, so make sure not to forgo a warmup and cool-down, especially if you're doing your workout outside. "When you are active and exercising, it is important to stretch before and after exercising," she explains.
Your acne might get worse
If you're already prone to skin conditions like eczema or acne, the lower humidity levels of winter could make your skin more vulnerable, says Jacob Steiger, M.D., a board-certified facial plastic surgeon. On the bright side, this means it's the perfect time to try out that vitamin C serum you've been eyeing.
"Vitamin C is all-natural and delivers skin-enhancing benefits to aid in rejuvenating the skin, such as dark spots and uneven tone," Dr. Steiger tells Elite Daily. "It also improves hydration and moisture to create brighter, healthier skin."
You might lose a little more hair than usual
"The winter months can affect your hair in two ways," says Nutrafol chief medical officer, Dr. Sophia Kogan. "For one, we can have more seasonal shedding, meaning there is a change in the actual cycle of the hair follicle, and secondly, our actual hair shaft is affected by harsh winter weather."
To keep your locks strong and healthy, it's best to skip those super soothing hot showers, Kogan explains, because the heat can damage your hair shaft, leaving it dry, brittle, and frizzy. Also, if your mom ever told you not to go outside with wet hair, she was actually making a good point. "It is commonly known that going outside in cold temperatures is not good to do with wet hair," Dr. Kogan tells Elite Daily, "and this is absolutely true."