I woke up this morning to snow. At first, I thought oh no! I am hosting a digestive healing class tonight downtown Chicago and this weather is going to get in the way of my plans. Then, I thought, nothing can get in my way and to look at it more positively. I then asked, what good comes from snow? Snowy, cold weather can be beneficial for adults, children, and the earth. It may be cold outside but that is no excuse to stay indoors. Here are some health benefits to cold, snowy weather:
In cold temperatures, the blood boosts its levels of norepinephrine, a natural chemical produced by the body that reduces pain. Shivering acts as a cold stressor on the body. When the body shivers, it has to work harder to regulate temperature which takes a lot of calories. Cryotherapy is popular as a modality to treat aches and pains. Athletes have used cryotherapy for a long time.
Free Workout from Nature
Trudging through snow and cleaning off your car gets your heart pumping and your muscles activated. In the cold, your body ramps up its production of a chemical called ATLPL, to store up fat for the evolutionary scarce season, so staying active in the winter can counteract that. We can see a snowfall as an obstacle or as an opportunity to move our body and notice how it feels to move.
No one wants to workout or heat up their car in the winter. It’s cold and dark and most people are running around deficient in many nutrients and vitamins, especially Vitamin D. However, pushing through this type of weather develops psychological strength and discipline. Taking a walk in the winter boost our brain and cognitive abilities. The more we can stay disciplined to our goals in the winter, the stronger they become. People who push through winters are mentally tougher than those who do not. On the flip side, seasonal depressive or affective disorder is real and common. Supporting your body with Whole Foods and supplementing nutrients or vitamins can help. Also, UV lights can be useful. Seeing a naturopathic doctor, counselor, or psychiatrist may be beneficial if you’re feeling very low. Supplementing with probiotics, Vitamin D, L-Theanine, and Choline in the winter can boost mood. For doses and customized recommendations, everyone is individual and needs different doses for their situation. A naturopathic doctor can create a tailor made health plan for you.
Free Energy Boost
Exposure to cold or freezing temperatures has been shown to boost energy levels, even if the exposure is short. The cold can increase cardiovascular and lymphatic circulation. You can also experience the benefits of cold by taking a cold shower or contrast showers where you alternate between hot and cold.
Free Immunity Boost with Fresh Air
Cold weather does not necessarily cause colds and flus – it is increased exposure to indoor environments where bacteria and viruses live and increased consumption of sugar, alcohol, and stress around the holidays that decreases immunity. Going for a walk outside in the winter is a great way to boost your immunity, just be sure to bundle up!
Vitamin D Exposure
Many North Americans are deficient in Vitamin D during the winter. Vitamin D helps regulate mental and emotional moods, by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin plays an important role in regulating mood and keeping us happy. So the more you’re outside, even on cloudy days, the higher your serotonin levels will be and the happier you will feel. Vitamins D lowers risk of osteoporosis and heart disease. A brisk 20-minute walk each day could be all you need to significantly reduce your chances of early death, according to a study of 334,000 European adults. Get out into the winter sun.
Snowy weather gives us time to look at life differently and reflect. Snowy weather makes us take care of ourselves because it is easier to get sick. For children, it provides them an opportunity to be creative and face different challenges while playing. For adults, it gives us time to stay at home, hibernate, love ourselves, sleep in, cook from home, and spend time alone or with loved ones. Taking time for self care is the ultimate form of self love.
Protects The Soil
Snow acts as an insulator for the soil and protects the root systems underground from breaking.
Snowy, cold weather does not necessarily need to be a pain. It’s all about the lens we choose to see through. I wish you health and growth this winter season. Neither does not happen without challenges, discipline, and self love.
Dr. Cresencia Felty ND
Effects of Cold Showers: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5025014/
Cold Effects Immunity: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4552515/
Prevention of Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/8878339/