Unless you’re the lucky ones who live in those places that magically have warm weather all year round, the freezing weather is about to hit you. And with this can come all the unexpected side effects: mental and physical.
Changes in climate cause many changes in the body and mind, according to Dr. Albert Ahn, a clinical instructor in internal medicine at Langone Health at New York University. It is important to keep this in mind in order to maintain health throughout the season.
Ahn told us about the effects of cold weather on the body so we can know what to expect when the temperature drops.
Here are some of the changes that you may not have realized are happening.
1. You burn more calories.
Some studies indicate that your basal metabolic rate; that is to say, the amount of calories that you burn by the simple fact of existing, without additional activities, increases slightly in the lowest temperatures. That happens because your body needs to work harder to maintain the temperature. But this does not count if you want to start a plan to lose weight, says Ahn.
2. Your fingers shrink.
Have you noticed that the rings are looser during the cold days? It is not your imagination. Extremities, such as the fingers and toes, tend to swell in warmer climates, Ahn explains.
“Usually that does not happen in winter,” he said. “The temperate climate contracts the blood vessels to conserve heat and maintain the temperature of the center of the body.
“That means you end up having less blood flow in your extremities, which makes you feel your fingers shrink,” he added.
3. You can feel more pain in the extremities.
Some people feel what is called Raynaud’s disease, which makes your body feel numb and cold with cold weather or stress, says Ahn. This happens in areas such as the hands, feet and ears, and is caused by smaller arteries that, in response to cold weather, contract excessively.
“It’s not dangerous, but it can be uncomfortable or painful,” says Ahn. There are modifications in your daily life, such as wearing appropriate clothes for the cold or avoiding exposure to the cold for a long time, and thus alleviating the symptoms “.
4. Your night vision may be affected.
Take care of your eyes Exposure to excessively cold temperatures, cold wind and snow can affect your vision, experts say. Jumping in the piles or snow banks is a risk that can damage hurt or burn the cornea. Make sure you wear proper protection when participating in winter sports and try to wear glasses as long as possible.
5. Your face turns red.
If your nose becomes red like Rudolph’s the reindeer because of the winter air, or your cheeks, it may be because the blood from those areas is redirected to more vital areas such as the heart and lungs. When you warm up, the blood returns to its normal places.
6. There are more risks of having a heart attack.
This is more common in older adults and in those who have heart problems, but it is something everyone would have to take into account, says Ahn.
“This risk is not just because the effort is made to shovel the snow,” he explains. “When the body tries to conserve heat, it increases the pressure in the heart, it has to work harder to pump blood to the extremities, and it also gets to raise blood pressure slightly.”
Ahn recommends leading a healthy life and monitoring any heart attack symptoms.
7. Your mood may decline.
The winter depression is real. The low temperature implies that there are fewer hours of light. That can affect mood because of the lack of vitamin D, explains Ahn. This can vary from mild to severe, and in the most extreme cases there is seasonal affective disorder, a mental health problem related to depression that occurs more in the winter months.
Ahn recommends a lot of exercise and exposing yourself as much as possible to sunlight. Vitamin D supplements can help with the milder mood swings, he says. Talk to your doctor if you feel that your mood is badly affected. You may need a more focused treatment of mental health.