What does cold weather do to your body?

cold weather
cold weather

We cannot escape cold weather in the fall, winter and sometimes even spring. Time for big weddings, gloves and scarves. But also for brats, cold toes and the need for warm blankets. How about that cold weather and our body? Is it bad for us? Or do we have to brave the cold every day for our health? We’ll tell you that in this article about what cold weather does to your body.

Healthier because of cold weather

It is cold outside, so we prefer to stay inside. There we turn on the stove. That way, hopefully, we won’t catch a cold and avoid that nasty cold. So cold weather is not good for us, is it?

Flexible blood vessels

But what does our body actually do when it is cold? We only feel the shivering, the snot nose and the cold hands. Even if you are cold, your body is busy with everything. In the first place with keeping your vital organs warm.

How does it do that? The nerves ‘feel’ the cold. They send a signal to the brain. To be specific: to the hypothalamus. This has an important role in regulating the temperature and sends a signal to the blood vessels.

The blood vessels constrict, causing the blood to flow less quickly. Blood pressure rises and the heart has to work harder. As a result, less heat disappears through the skin. The skin itself does get colder, hence the cold hands and feet.

So the blood vessels constrict. That requires flexibility. The better that flexibility is, the easier it is for your heart to get everything blooded properly. And so the heart rate and blood pressure can be lower in some because they have strong and flexible veins.

Metabolism up

Besides the effect on your blood vessels, something also happens with your metabolism. The metabolism goes up. Your body needs fuel to keep itself warm. If you spend a whole day outside in cold weather, you burn more energy.

Cold weather activates brown fat. The brown, healthy fat we have converts energy into heat. The more brown fat you have, the faster you burn. And in the end that also means that you can lose more weight.

More white blood cells

The immune system reacts to the increased metabolism. What is going on, it wonders. The immune system prepares to resist any kind of threat. It does this by making white blood cells. These blood cells help protect us against bacteria and viruses.

Getting sick from cold weather

Why then do we suffer with our health when it gets colder? And might you catch a cold if you don’t dress warmly enough in cold weather? Viruses are often the cause of a disease. But the reason lies with you: namely a reduced resistance.

Some viruses can multiply better at cold temperatures. In addition, we are often with more people in a room, so that it spreads much faster. People with a lower resistance can therefore easily catch a cold.

This reduced resistance is not surprising. It also does not mean that you are living unhealthily or that you are doing something wrong. In winter we consume less vitamin D and the body focuses mainly on keeping warm.

The runny nose

That annoying runny nose. You cannot escape it. A runny nose doesn’t have to have anything to do with your health. It does not mean that you have something down or that you have a cold.

When you breathe in the cold air outside, your nose dries out on the inside. The mucous membranes in the nose want to dissolve this by producing more mucus. The function of that slime is to heat up the air.

At the same time, the water vapor condenses in your breath. That water vapor and mucus accumulate in your nose. And that becomes so much that it eventually runs out of your nose.

Losing weight through cold weather

We just mentioned the brown fat that is stimulated by cold. That walk outside is not so bad. You can also lower the heater at home or open the window every now and then.

Of course you can also exercise outside. It is important to do a good warm-up and to dress well. The last thing you want is an injury from straining muscles that are still cold.

Also keep in mind that your body gets tired during exercise. And your fuel is also slowly running out. After a while it becomes more and more difficult to keep everything warm. How long you can exercise outside differs per person.

Effect on your skin

In cold weather, the blood vessels in the skin constrict, so that less heat is lost there. The skin insulates. But it also means that fingers and feet are cold due to the reduced blood flow.

In order to provide the skin with sufficient blood flow and warmth, the blood vessels open every now and then. This allows the skin temperature to rise again temporarily. The skin does not freeze so quickly. And in this way you train the blood vessels too.

In addition to being cold, the air in winter is also drier. Your skin can therefore also be dry and vulnerable in winter. What can you do about it? Do not take a hot shower, do not always use shower foam, use humidifiers at home and moisturize your skin.

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