10 Surprising Health Benefits of Cold Weather

There’s no doubt about it, winter can be tough on our bodies and overall wellbeing. But it’s not all bad!

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Cold weather, woman sitting at desk in library looking at laptop and listening on headphones. She also holds a notebook.
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Cooler temps boosts your brain

Colder temperatures help people think clearly. Research shows that people perform tasks better when the room temperature is set at a cooler setting than a warmer one. What’s more, other research shows that people are less inclined to tackle cognitive problems in the summer, as opposed to winter, because the summer uses more glucose that’s needed for mental processes. So, getting outdoors for a brisk walk to a local coffee store in the wintertime could give you your next big idea for a work presentation.

Check out these healthy habits that boost your brain and mental health.

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Cold weather, woman running in snowy field next to snow-covered fir trees.
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Cold weather might help you burn calories

When it’s cold, your body works harder to maintian your core temp. “Our bodies use a considerable amount of energy to keep us warm, and humidify the air we breathe when we’re out in the cold,” explains Stacy Tucker, RN, natural health expert, founder of Almeda Labs.

Here are 6 tips for getting back into fitness.

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Cold weather, Young woman looks in mirror and measures her waist, She wears a striped T-shirt and black skirt.
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It increases brown fat

Most fat in human beings appears whitish in color, while brown fat is the mitochondria-packed fat cells that burn energy and produces heat in the body. “It was thought that only babies had brown fat, however, a study found that adults have some brown fat, and people with lower body mass index (BMI) tended to have a higher content of brown fat,” Tucker says. Research has shown that when men are exposed to cooler temps, they have an increase in brown fat — and a corresponding boost in metabolism.

These 6 exercises will also boost your metabolism.

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Cold weather, overhead shot of woman drinking lemon tea. Balled up tissues are on the table.
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It improves allergies

If you have outdoor allergies, good news! Pollen counts are virtually nonexistent in cold and snowy weather. If you have indoor allergies, however, you’re not in the clear, because mold and dust mite allergies can be worse during the winter, especially if you’re spending more time indoors, says Tucker.

This is your total guide to surviving allergies in Canada.

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Cold weather, Woman stretching her quads in front of concrete steps. She wears running gear.
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Winter can lower inflammation

You know how ice packs are used to decrease swelling and pain after an injury? Well, you might notice your joints feeling less swollen or puffy in winter, because the cold air acts like a natural ice pack to decrease inflammation, explains Tucker.

This is the hard truth about osteoarthritis and how you can get relief.

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Cold weather, Woman shivers at her desk. She is bundled in a scarf and sweater and clutches her shoulders.
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It can lower risk of diseases

Sure, you might be more likely to catch a cold, but you’re in the clear for several diseases and viruses that are more prevalent in warmer temps. That’s because pesky mosquitoes hibernate during winter, which translates into a decrease of mosquito-borne diseases, including Zika, West Nile virus, dengue fever, and malaria during the winter season, says Tucker.

But when bug bites are an issue, these natural home remedies can help.

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Cold weather, Woman sleeps happily in bed with white sheets and duvet.
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You’ll sleep better

Your body’s core temp naturally drops when you’re trying to sleep; this process can take up to two hours in the heat of summer but is much faster in winter, says Tucker. Plus, one of the upsides of shorter days is darker mornings, so you can naturally sleep in later, no blackout curtains required. If your bedroom temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees, you might burn more calories, too.

Here are 7 more ways to help you fall asleep faster.

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Cold weather, Woman with cold sits on couch wrapped in blanket. She sips tea and has dirty kleenexes balled up around her.
Andrea Karr

It can help you fight infections

Yes, you might get more colds during the winter (not so great), but you are actually better primed to kick your immune system into gear and fight the infection more effectively. Studies have shown that the human immune system can be activated when exposed to the cold, and this enhances someone’s ability to fight infections, explains Tucker.

6 Things You’re Doing Wrong During Cold Season

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Cold weather, woman touches her very smooth bare legs.
Andrea Karr

It can rejuvenate skin

Moderately cold temperatures could be good for skin’s health because it constrains blood vessels in the skin. This makes the vessels less prone to redness and swelling, as a result of a reduction in blood flow, explains Tucker. Plus, you tend to produce less oil and sebum in the winter, so you may have fewer breakouts. Find out the things a facialist recommends in winter to keep skin healthy.

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Cold weather, woman runs through urban city street. She wears full running gear. Weather looks grey and cold.
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It can better your ticker

Cold weather can actually do your heart some good when you’re bracing it for your winter workouts outdoors. Cold weather makes working out a fun and challenging activity, and the heart will have to pump more oxygenated blood to not only compensate for the activity but also to ensure that the body maintains a warm enough temperature to stay within balance and to avoid any risks from a drop in temperature. What’s more, “exercising in the winter makes heart muscles stronger,” explains Tucker. However, if you have heart disease, you should be cautious when exercising outdoors in cold weather.

We’ve got 13 great ideas for staying active outdoors and enjoying the Canadian winter.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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