We are all aware of the negative aspects of cold weather, influenza and colds, less fresh veggies, staying inside too much, the negative effect on your blood pressure, and of course the chilling temperatures. Let us take a look at some surprising health benefits of winters!
- Burns Calories – Our body has two types of fats- Brown and White. The brown fat is the healthy fat which can burn off the white fat. It has been studied in various researches that cold weather activates the brown fat and thus reduces white fat (the flab) even at moderately cool temperatures of 15°C. Thus, just being cold may help in burning calories and losing weight!
- Less hospitable for carrying bugs – Most of the pathogens, bacteria and bugs thrive in a mild weather. As the temperatures begin to fall, the activity of these pathogens and bacteria falls, in some cases where the temperatures are freezing, it may act as bactericidal. Below freezing temperatures may be brutal and kill the bugs and their larvae, thus the fierce temperatures may be protective for our health!
- Reduce inflammation – It has long been established that a sprain or a swelling is relieved by cold compress and ice packs. This concept can be extended to a grander scale to help alleviate inflammations in the muscles and other body parts. There have been researches done on athletes which have proposed that cryotherapy (cold treatment) may lead to faster and better muscle recovery as compared to rest. These days, even the spas have a cold room, just like a steam bath or a sauna bath.
- Extends life – Longevity of life depends on numerous factors, one of which could be the weather. At the University of Michigan, a research suggests that certain biochemical pathways and genetic changes are seen during winters which result in extending life.
- Boosts sleep quality – We have a Circadian Rhythm in our body which regulates the appetite, biorhythm, sleep cycle and activities for us. Any disruption in this Circadian rhythm causes insomnia, impaired cognitive function, and diabetes among other health problems. It has been seen that when we fall asleep, our body temperature falls- whereas the temperature does not fall in insomniacs. It has been propagated that the ideal room temperature in bedrooms for sleeping is 15-19°C which leads to cooling off our bodies and hence helps in inducing sleep.
- Reduces pain – Cold temperatures seem to numb our sensations by numbing the nerve endings. Thus, while cold temperatures reduce the inflammation, they also tend to reduce the pain temporarily.
- Improves appetite – It has been noted that small temperature variations lead to small changes in daily caloric intake and activity levels. This age-old claim has been supported by an article published in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition by suggesting that the diet composition, caloric intake and body weight are affected in cold weathers. It has further been established that colder weathers induce appetite more compared to warmer temperatures which is augmented if you exercise in lower temperatures.
- Psychological effects – Even though some people may suffer from ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ (a type of depression with mood swings and extreme fatigue) during winters, it has been seen that colder temperatures may help us to ‘think out of the box’! It has been seen that people talk for longer durations though to fewer people on the phone and are more emotionally invested in each call. Some researchers have suggested that cold environment promotes ‘Referential Creativity’ where we may be better at understanding metaphors, coming up with new ideas, being creative and more abstract in our thinking.
- Lose weight – As surprising as it sounds, shivering for 15minutes in the cold can have similar effects an hour of exercise has! Shivering stimulates the release of a hormone called as Irisin, which stimulates the burning of fat.
Since December has arrived and the winter holidays are just around the corner, now is your chance to explore the winter magic, go holidaying, and shop for Christmas gifts! Then, after some quality time spent out in the cool air, why not come back to this article and let us know: how do you think cold temperatures benefit you?