Does Cold Weather Help You Live Longer?

We had our first snowfall of the season the other day and the temperature outside is getting decidedly nippy.  Sweater weather has arrived and it’s time to turn up the thermostat.  We Canadians are a hardy bunch, and those who are not snowbirding or enjoying a winter tropical vacation are scraping windshields and shovelling driveways.

Is there an advantage to living in the Great White North?  Does a cold climate allow us to live longer?  You know, like we put food in the refrigerator to make it last.

Research from the University of Michigan reported that worms exposed to cold temperatures demonstrate a genetic response that triggers longer life spans.

Another study discovered that mussels in balmy Spain live an average of 29 years, but mussels in frigid Russia survive as long as 200 years.

Are rosy cheeks better for us than a golden tan?

It’s hard to imagine – we’re not worms or mussels – but numerous studies suggest that braving the winter chill could aid your health and well being and lead to a longer life.

Seven Health Benefits of Living in a Cold Climate

1. Cold weather burns more calories

Research has shown that simply being cold burns more calories as your body works harder to maintain its temperature.  It has something to do with having more good “brown fat” which burns calories and increases your metabolism thereby producing more heat and regulating body temperature, and swallowing up the free radicals that contribute to aging.

2. It brings us closer together

When it’s freezing outside and you’re warm and cozy inside you spend more time bonding with loved ones.  You are more likely to reach out to your family and friends by phone and have longer conversations.  This reduces stress and promotes happiness.

3. It’s less favourable for disease-carrying bugs

Disease carrying bugs like mosquitos and ticks become inactive or die around the first frost.

4. It reduces inflammation

Just like putting ice on an injury, cold weather may affect our body chemistry to reduce inflammation, curb pain and speed up recovery time.

5. It helps you think more clearly

The glucose in our bodies regulates our internal body temperature and helps decision making abilities.  It improves concentration and boosts your mood.

6. Cold can pump up your work outs

Exposure to freezing temperatures, even for short periods, can significantly increase your energy for hours afterword.

When you’re all bundled up, it allows temporary escape from the pressure of having a perfect beach-worthy body.  You can focus on fitness for health and energy instead of appearance, therefore boosting your self-image.

7. It makes you appreciate warm days more

Come summer, the memory of these cold days will make you appreciate and take advantage of the warm ones even more.  (Except for those who are never happy – “It’s so hot!”)

The bottom line

The take-away I get from the research is this.  Instead of hibernating indoors and binge watching The Game of Thrones when the temperature drops, go outside and get some exercise.  Get together with your friends and go skating or skiing.  Build a snowman with your grandchildren.  Or just take a brisk walk.

What’s your favourite thing about winter?

 

 

 

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4 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Living in a cold climate may or may not help you live longer. But it sure makes it seem so.

  2. fbgcai says:

    I think we’re a little further up the food chain than worms and mussels but in the case of some political leaders maybe not 🙂 – love winter btw – can dress for the cold (cooler) weather but social norms prevent stripping completely when it’s stinking HOT! 🙂

    • Marie Engen says:

      @fbgcai – I don’t mind bundling up and getting outside on a nice brisk day. What I hate is a 50kmh freezing cold wind blowing in my face. That’s when I want to cozy up inside.

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