Brrr! Winter often means cold mornings, sweaters, lots of fleece, and a pair or two of fuzzy socks. But before to dream of escaping to warmer climates, you may be surprised to learn that cold weather actually has some health benefits.
1. Improved Sleep
Sleeping in a cooler room, as opposed to a warmer one, has been found to promote restful sleep. Did you know that your body naturally drops in temperature when you’re asleep? This explains why it can be challenging to get a good night’s sleep in a room that is too warm. If you struggle with sleeping well, consider adjusting the temperature of the room to make it slightly cooler. Additionally, using a cooling pillow can be beneficial for those dealing with insomnia, hot flashes, or night sweats. Cooling pillows infused with a cooling gel help draw heat away from your body and lower the temperature of your bed, aiding in achieving a restful night’s sleep.
2. A Beauty Booster
While cold weather may seem harsh, our skin can actually benefit from exposure to cooler temperatures. The cold enhances blood circulation, reducing the chances of puffy eyes and facial swelling. When faced with colder temperatures, the blood vessels in your face react by giving you a fresh and wholesome appearance—clear, bright eyes and rosy-red cheeks. Cool weather also tightens pores and invigorates your face, much like a refreshing splash of cold water or a cold shower. On the other hand, hot water has the opposite effect and can dry out the skin. However, it’s important to note that prolonged exposure to very cold air can be detrimental to your skin, leading to frostbite. Always ensure you protect exposed skin when temperatures drop below freezing.
3. Lower Cortisol Levels
Does hot weather make you hot-tempered? Or do you find you’re cranky when it’s cold? Researchers in Poland conducted a study to determine if there was a direct correlation between temperatures and stress levels. They found that the stress hormone, cortisol, is actually lower in your body in winter, and rises along with hotter summer temperatures. Increased levels of cortisol (along with dehydration and being forced to stay indoors during extreme heat) are thought to make us more apt to be irritable or angry. Crime statistics support this research as a rise in reported acts of violence during hot summer weather are the norm. So don’t be surprised if, on sweltering summer days, your fuse is short.
While gray skies and shorter days with less sunshine in the winter may bring on the blues, exercising in cold weather can actually make you happier. Hot, humid weather can leave you feeling drained, especially after physical exertion. Experts say exercising outdoors in cold weather increases the release of endorphins, those feel-good hormones, as your body works harder to stay warm, it naturally lifts your mood.
4. A Break From Pollen Allergies
The good news about cold weather is that pollen counts are low. So if you suffer from seasonal allergies, you may just get a break. Of course, there are other allergens in wintertime, such as mold and dust mites, and an affliction known as “Cedar Fever” you should consider, but for the most part, you’ll get a bit of a reprieve.
5. Burn More Calories
Cold weather can actually help with your exercise routine. When you walk or exercise outdoors in cooler temperatures, your body burns more calories to keep warm. This can be beneficial for losing excess body fat. In fact, cold weather triggers the burning of brown fat, which generates energy. On the other hand, when exercising in hot weather, people tend to overestimate the number of calories they are burning due to sweating. A study funded by the American Council on Exercise found that participants in a hot yoga session, where temperatures ranged from 90-105 degrees Fahrenheit, didn’t exert as much effort as they thought they did because of excessive sweating. So, if you want to get the most out of your workout, embrace the cold weather.
6. Trimmer Waistline?
Have you ever wondered if the climate where you live has any effect on your weight? Are people who live in cold-weather states fitter or fatter than those living in states where it’s hot year-round? According to the State of Adult Obesity in the US, states with the lowest rates of obesity (as of 2017) were Hawaii, Massachusetts, Washington, DC, and Colorado. Each of these states has varying climates. The states with the highest rates of adult obesity were West Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, most of which are in the south. Yet, not all southern states fall in this category. So, while the weather may play a role, it isn’t the deciding factor in our nation’s obesity trend.
Extreme Cold Weather is Dangerous
Of course, extremely cold weather can be dangerous and you should exercise caution. Take a look at these must-read tips for when the temperatures plummet.
Do cold winters kill bugs? Find out here.
Deborah Tukua is a natural living, healthy lifestyle writer and author of 7 non-fiction books, including Pearls of Garden Wisdom: Time-Saving Tips and Techniques from a Country Home, Pearls of Country Wisdom: Hints from a Small Town on Keeping Garden and Home, and Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Tukua has been a writer for the Farmers' Almanac since 2004.