10 winter health myths exposed – Part I

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Separate fact from fiction when it comes to cold-weather wellness.

Due to cold, flu season and chilly weather, it seems like we worry more about our health during the winter than at any other time of year. But do we really need to stress about our well-being this season? We spoke to the experts about the biggest winter health myths and found out the truth.

Myth #1: Cold air can make you sick.

Some winter wisdom is about as factual as Frosty the Snowman. Problem is, these fictions don’t just give you the warm and fuzzy — they can pack on the pounds, stuff up your nose, and even increase your risk of cancer. This season, don’t let these winter health myths get the best of you.

Myth #2: Lack of sunlight causes winter depression

It seems natural to assume that depression spikes in the winter months. And yet, health experts say that’s just a myth. Contrary to popular belief, major depression is not more rampant during the winter months than at any other time of the year. But what about the wintertime sadness you may be feeling? The ‘holiday blues’ is a significant, temporary, stress-related condition, but it is not a recognized medical ailment or diagnosis. Some people may also experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which has symptoms similar to depression, such as insomnia, irritability and difficulty concentrating, but only occurs during the winter months.

Myth #3: Women gain 10 pounds over the winter.

Between comfort foods, dreary days, and cozy blankets, it’s not hard to imagine why women put on winter weight. But it turns out that the average woman only gains one or two pounds over the winter. Still, one Nutrition Reviews study shows that weight gain during the six-week holiday season accounts for 51% of annual weight gain. And, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, most women don’t shed that extra layer of insulation come springtime, so over the years, the weight can really add up.

Myth #4: You shouldn’t exercise in the cold.

Get ready to crawl out from under your comforter and run into the great (and yes, cold) outdoors. According to research published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, in cold temperatures, race times are actually faster—and quicker paces burn more calories in less time. Plus, that harder, faster workout can spike your endorphin levels—which, according to a review in Environmental Science and Technology, are already increased just by you being outside.

Myth #5: We need more sleep in the winter.

Admit it, when winter hits and the sun seems to all but disappear, the thought of hibernation sounds appealing, doesn’t it? But that sleepy feeling you may get in the winter doesn’t mean you should always let yourself snooze longer. While it’s natural to want to be cozier and be in bed more, we don’t technically need more sleep. Instead, it’s likely that the scarcity of sunlight in the winter months makes us think we’re sleepy. There’s nothing wrong with going to bed earlier, but beware of sleeping too much. Some people find that when they get more sleep, they feel sleepier during the day, even a little dazed.

In next post we will expose some more winter health myths.

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