Around this season we often hear many people argue whether these temperatures are actually good or bad for our health. The truth is, it depends. Low temperatures, in some ways, may be a little harsh for the health, but according to a January 2010 study by Harvard Health Letter, cold weather can have many benefits.
During winter, we often seek to stay warm, to dress well, trying not to feel the cold at all, but exposure to cold temperatures is not a bad thing for our health. The human body is made up of two types of fat: white fat and brown fat. Brown fat is the one that produces heat and helps to burn calories, keeping the weight under control, but especially, it’s what babies need to adjust their body temperature. With aging, it begins to disappear, but some adults continue to retain a quantity of brown fat.
Benefits of staying out in the cold
Helps improve sleep quality. Our bodies follow a circadian rhythm that helps us function normally. Researchers have found that an irregular circadian rhythm can lead to interrupted sleep which, in turn, causes many health problems. Insomnia and other sleep disorders increase the risk of kidney disease and diabetes. When we fall asleep, the body temperature begins to drop. Those who suffer from insomnia will not be able to adjust their body temperature, making it very difficult for them to fall asleep. So people who suffer from insomnia, when exposed to low temperatures, might be able to enjoy a much more restful sleep. According to researchers, the ideal bedroom temperature should be somewhere between 15.5 and 19 degrees Celsius.
Increases appetite. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that appetite for elderly people increases during winter as temperatures decrease. Another experiment conducted on pigs showed that in high temperature environments, the animal tend to eat less, and in those where the temperatures were very low, their appetite was rising.
Burn fat and help weight loss. If you have set a goal for yourself to lose those extra pounds, low temperatures can be of great help because they activate the brown fat, which transforms the stored body fat into energy. Moreover, the burning of fat is stimulated by trembling. Apparently, 15 minutes spent in the cold, while trembling, has the same effect as an hour of training in the gym.
It relieves inflammation and pain. Another benefit brought by exposure to low temperatures is relieving local inflammation. Many of us have been told since childhood that, in order to reduce swelling, we should apply a cold water compress. However, we should note that depending on the type of inflammation, a compress might not always be the ideal solution.
Psychological effects. Unfortunately, many people associate the cold season with fatigue and emotional disturbances, a type of depression that occurs especially in winter. Still, researchers show that temperatures have surprising health effects even on our mental state.
Stimulates creativity. Cold temperatures help our imagination overcome certain barriers, especially in using and understanding metaphors and thinking outside the box.