Four Reasons to Embrace the Winter Cold

Summer, shmummer. Winter rules.

A little chill never hurt anyone. And in fact, cold weather boasts a few health benefits of its own. Here’s why you should embrace the great outdoors this season:

1. To beat the bug

Forget everything your grandmother told you. Going outside with wet hair in winter won’t give you pneumonia. “It’s a complete myth that being in the cold will make you sick,” says Trisha Acri, a family doctor with Temple Physicians. “It’s being inside in a closed environment with the windows shut and no air circulation that makes getting sick more likely.” So to avoid coming down with a bug, you’re better off taking a stroll around the block than touching germy doorknobs, faucet handles or remote controls.

2. To burn extra calories

When cold weather sets in, your body has to work harder to retain its heat, resulting in slightly increased basal metabolic rate. Of course, this may mean just a few extra calories burned, but that’s a few more than you’d expend lounging on the couch. And if you have to move more to keep warm, well, the more activity the better.

3. To keep your holiday cheer

Gray skies and shortened days can leave people with a gloomy feeling, otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder. The A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia suggests that “taking long walks during the daylight hours and getting exercise can make the symptoms better.”

“Sun exposure does help people who tend toward depression,” says Acri. The encycopedia also recommends maintaining an active social life. So find a walking buddy and go in search of the neighborhood street with the best holiday lights.

4. So you can buy new stuff

Alright, this may not be a direct health benefit, per se, but time outdoors does demand the proper attire. While you’re out picking up gifts, treat yourself to a new pair of gloves or a fleece jacket. You’ll need them on your walks or runs. Plus retail therapy is an excellent pick-me-up amidst holiday stress.