It’s the middle of winter, and physically, you are probably feeling it. Cold weather, especially when it’s really frigid (think sub 20 degrees) can, quite literally, hurt. The cold can have a dramatic affect on your health and wellness. How, exactly, does cold weather impact your body?
The Winter Blues
Changes in the weather can affect your mental health. Many people report experiencing a greater tendency towards depression when it’s cold outside. It should be noted that some people also experience a swing towards intense feelings of depression in the summer as well, but more people seem to experience the winter blues than summer sadness.
Blood Pressure Rises When It’s Cold
If you have high blood pressure, you need to exercise extra caution when the temperature drops. Cold weather causes blood vessels to narrow which puts people with high blood pressure at greater risk for problems in colder seasons. If you are on any sort of medication or treatment for high blood pressure, call your doctor when it gets cold to see if you need to adjust your dosage or treatment.
Frostbite and Hypothermia
Your body wants to stay at a warm 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. When it’s cold out, your body will do everything it can to keep your internal temperature at this level. In particular, your body will conserve heat for vital organs. This is why, oftentimes, people who are outside in the cold for prolonged periods of time experience frostbite as the body conserves heat for vital organs. If your body temperature goes below 96 degrees, you will experience hypothermia that can be deadly as internal organs need warm temperatures to function. When it’s cold out, limit the time you spend outdoors, and dress in layers.
Also, make sure to check on elderly family and friends who are particularly vulnerable to the harmful affects of the cold.
It’s Not All Bad: You Burn Calories Faster
Fortunately, not every effect of cold weather on your body is negative. In the cold, the human body will actually burn calories faster than normal. If you are trying to lose some weight, the winter may be your best friend.