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Three Ways Cold Weather Is Good For You


Your toes may be numb and your lips chapped, but the cold isn’t all bad for your health. Here are three things to appreciate about cold weather.

1. Cold weather could help you burn calories.

Yes, shivering away outside is one way to burn calories…but it’s not the only way. Professor Mike Cawthorne, director of metabolic research at the University of Buckingham in England, has researched how colder temperatures activate brown fat — the “good” type of body fat that burns energy, rather than stores it.

How cold? Just 64 degrees Fahrenheit, he says. Still, keeping down the temperature probably isn’t enough to lose weight.

“This is something that would go along with a calorie controlled diet,” Cawthorne says.

2. Chilly temperatures make it harder for disease-carrying insects to survive.

Bugs like ticks and mosquitoes don’t do well in winter. True, it likely won’t get cold enough in Texas to kill off the insects all together…but temperatures below freezing do mean fewer pests. And in Texas, fewer mosquitoes means less chance of catching diseases like West Nile virus.

3. A little winter freeze can reduce pain.

You know how ice numbs injuries? Well, same idea here, a little chill can help reduce swelling from a recent injury or golf swing gone wrong. But, it’s worth pointing out that cold weather can also make some types of inflammation more painful. Like arthritis. Several studies have shown lower temperatures outdoors result in stiffer joints.

A note here, although super chilly temperatures for athletes have become popular — in what’s called cryotherapy — there is little peer-reviewed research to back up the claims. Learn more about the sci-fi-sounding treatment.

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.