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.
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.