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Baby, it’s cold outside

January 10, 2016
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

Isn't this weather great? We're solidly into January and the world has frozen solid. I'm always threatening to get a job in the farmland of central California. "It'll be like here, only warm and sunny."

Are you buying it?

We complain about having to face another cold snap on top of the already sub-freezing temperatures, and it's hard to imagine that all the wind, snow and frigit temps are actually good for our health, or that it benefits us in any way.

Health experts, however, say there are plenty of advantages the cold provides for our minds and bodies. And since we've chosen life at this latitude, we ought to thinki positive.

According to Wojetek J. Chodzko-Zajko, head of the department of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois, "Going for a walk in the park after a fresh snowfall is one of the most exhilarating, stress-inducing things I can think of." In fact, in cold weather you are likely to burn calories more quickly, breathe fresher air, think more clearly, and have a better self-image. It's also a time we spend bonding with loved ones, which is good for mind, body and spirit. Cold weather also:

Increases our energy

Helps us sleep better (as long as we don't have a blanket stealer in our bed)!

Kills bugs (they say a fly in the house in winter brings good luck. I'm not so sure about that, but I don't miss the mosquitos a bit!)

Stimulates calorie burning "brown fat."

Huh? Brown fat is the heat producing and calorie-burning fat that babies use to regulate their body temperatures. Adults retain some brown fat, too.

Our minds work better. In warm weather our minds wander to the beach, the golf course, a kayak on the Des Moines River, and put off complex decisions. Warm temps take up more of our mental resources and because glucose is also used for mental processes it adversely affects our decision making abilities.

Better breathing and cleaner air: The crisp, clean quality of cold air makes this time of year a great time to be out in nature, taking long walks and deeper breaths. Just be sure to layer up, wear boots, gloves, hat and warm coat, and maybe even snow pants to keep your legs and backside from freezing.

Rosy cheeks: make your complexion naturally colorful with the brisk air. (Okay, I'm not sure about this one, either.)

Worms have longer life in the cold, why can't we? Researchers discovered that worms exposed to cold temperatures demonstrated a genetic response that triggers longer life, while other researchers found that reducing the body temperature of mice extends their lifespan, too. No one has done long-term research on whether this applies to humans, so while I'm living here in the northland for the foreseeable future, I'm still going to pile on the extra blanket and take my chances.

It actually fights infection. Even though it seems like the colder temps cause noses to run like faucets and an unending cough, if you can get on top of that, cells that fight infection actually increase if you go out in the cold.

Friends. When you're inside and it's freezing outside, you're more likely to take the time for a long, meaningful phone/skype/facetime conversation with someone close to you. What's more therapeutic than a great conversation with your best friends?

You're not worried about your body measuring up to others. For women, there's a boost in the self-image department because everyone is bundled up in layers and clodhopper boots and stocking caps. No one's worried about having a bikini body.

Gratefulness. We appreciate the good days to come more. Yet more research shows that constant warm weather doesn't make you any happier. People's moods are happiest after darker days. I can sing, California Here We Come or remember the vacations I had when my grandparents lived on Longboat Key, but ultimately, those who live in constant sunshine don't really have more happiness.

Bundle up, everyone!

Oh!?Before I?forget:?Failure Club is still open for members. Do you have a dream, something you've always wanted to try, but you hesitated because you're not sure of the outcome??Failure Club is where we share our dreams, brainstorm ideas and especially resources for making those dreams come true, at least on a local scale. Have you always wanted to create a TV show, learn to sail, start a business, sky dive, hang glide, etc.??Let me know.



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