7 Surprising Effects Of Cold Weather On The Body

Baby, it’s (getting) cold outside!

Even though my home state of Colorado, like much of the country, experienced unseasonably warm weather well into November, we finally got our first dusting of snow and it looks like winter is finally on its way.

While I don’t particularly mind the snow and ice, it’s true that getting up early in the morning is less pleasant when temps are in the single digits, and outdoor exercise all but grinds to a halt.

Cold temperatures have a profound effect on our bodies in the winter time, but it might surprise you to learn that not all of them are negative! Keep reading to learn some surprising ways that cold weather affects our health, and what you can do about it.

Negative Health Effects Of Cold Weather 


Weakened Immune System

While going out in the cold doesn’t make you sick (the way your Grandma may have claimed) cold does have a suppressive effect on your immune system. Cold weather and respiratory disease, including flu, go hand in hand, explains the Harvard Medical School. “Some of this may have to do with a few infectious organisms, like flu viruses, thriving in colder temperatures, but there’s also evidence that exposure to cold temperatures suppresses the immune system, so the opportunities for infection increase.” Do your immune system a solid by avoiding these habits and adding these foods to your diet.

Asthma Attacks

Breathing cold air in quickly through the mouth, such as when shoveling or playing outside, has been known to trigger lung spasms. Wearing a scarf or face mask can help, as can remembering to breathe through the nose to help warm air before it enters the lungs.

Migraines

With falling temperatures comes falling barometric pressure, an atmospheric change that can be so intense, it leads to sinus issues and migraines.

Low Libido

Just because it makes you huddle under the blankets doesn’t mean cold weather is great for your sex life. Minimal sunlight (which reduces serotonin production), combined with the cold’s depressive effect on neurotransmitters, tends to put our libido into hibernation.

Now let’s take a look at some of the positive ways cold weather can affect your health!

Positive Health Effects Of Cold Weather


Increased Fat Burn

It may not be enough to counteract all the holiday indulgences, but cold weather can help our body deal with fat more efficiently. In a 2012 study, researchers found that cold weather seemed to set “brown fat,” a type of fat found naturally in parts of the body that, when triggered, can burn off other “white” fat, into motion, and that simply being cold could cause significant calorie burn. The best way to maximize these effects is to get out and move around, even when the temperatures are chilly.

Reduced Inflammation

In a 2011 study, runners who were exposed to extremely cold temperatures recovered from exercise faster than those given other therapies or told to rest, The Atlantic reported. This means that getting out and exercising in the winter could result in less inflammation and soreness than summer exercise!

Better Brain Function

There’s some scientific evidence to suggest that our brains work better when we’re kept at cooler temperatures.  One well-known 1972 study that said 62 degrees was the temperature at which school children functioned optimally, while other research shows that people study better when the weather outside is “bad.”

Do you think cold weather has a positive or negative affect on your health and mood? Tell us in the comments!

145 comments

Jetana A
Jetana A1 months ago

Care2 should retire this article until next fall, since everyone I've ever green starred here was from the northern hemisphere.

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Crystal G
Crystal G3 months ago

And I play a great game of mini-golf!

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Sarah H
Sarah Hill5 months ago

brrrrrrr

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Hent c

thanks

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Janet B
Janet B6 months ago

Thanks

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Rosslyn O
Rosslyn O6 months ago

Anything under 25deg C (77 deg F) is too cold for me! The colder it gets the more I am bed-bound, and just want to sleep. I have trouble moving most of my body due to pain and camps. My ultimate temperature range is dry heat from 27 to 36 deg C (80-97 F) and I'm a happy little Vegemite :>)

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David C.
David C6 months ago

thanks

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Cindy M. Dutka
Cindy M. Dutka6 months ago

Thank you for sharing this info. I suffer from very bad sinus problems. I can state with certainty that cold really does make sinus problems worse. I really like how this article gives info on both the negative and positive effects of the cold weather.

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JoAnn Paris
JoAnn Paris6 months ago

Thank you for this very interesting article.

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