Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: Winter: What is it Good For? Absolutely … Something

Winter: What is it Good For? Absolutely … Something

Recruitment Specialist

Hi, my name is Corinna and I am a Floridian.

This is where you would say "Hi, Corinna!" back, and I would dive into my soliloquy of how I hit rock bottom, which is what you might call "winter." I moved to Maryland last year, and I've gotten used to putting Old Bay on my French fries and knowing that you will forever be defined by your allegiance to the Ravens or Redskins. However, what I haven't figured out yet is how everyone here and across the rest of the country just accepts the fact that seasons happen every year.

Winter

In a post on our blog earlier this month, my colleague Lisa Blubaugh discussed seasonal affective disorder, which is a form of depression that plagues 11 million Americans every year when these frigid eternities days start to creep around. Although I clearly have my own issues regarding any temperature below 70 degrees, it got me thinking: Does cold weather actually do anything good for people?

According to the Harvard Health Letter, colder temperatures can help us more efficiently burn calories. Humans have two types of fat; white fat and brown fat. The brown fat helps insulate body heat, and this is triggered by cold environments. Why does this matter? Brown fat is also better at burning calories, which is definitely a positive during the holiday season. If nothing else, it's an excuse to eat that extra Christmas cookie.

Cold weather also kills trees and flowers, which might seem like a negative; however, the lower temperatures also exterminate the things that live in trees and flowers: bugs. Mosquitos, ticks, and other disease-carrying insects cannot survive the frigid temperatures of a Polar Vortex. Granted, this doesn't wipe out the entire population, but at least you don't have to worry about getting West Nile virus through your 10 layers of clothing.

Winter months also introduce multiple fitness benefits. First, there are additional opportunities for exercise to help break up the mundane activities done throughout the rest of the year to stay physically fit. Skiing, snowboarding, sledding, ice-skating, and curling (my personal favorite*) among many others are all great cardiovascular activities. A study done by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research found that staying active in cooler months can boost your immune system enough to reduce your risk of contracting the flu by 20 to 30 percent. Also, much like how a cold compress can alleviate inflammation and reduce the recovery time associated with working out, a chilly run can do the same. The American Heart Association further points out that exercise's calorie-burning powers increase when the strain of pushing through tundra-like city streets is added to the mix. Now you can ensure that extra cookie is history!

Hey, there might be several more months of winter (yes, I realize it's technically still "fall"), but at least it can be good for your health!

*I lied; I have never curled.

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