Following the warmest November on record, the winter finally seems to be catching up: Thin ice started to spread across Lake Bemidji and the recent snowstorm covered the slippery roads with icy slush. Besides increasing the chance of swerving into a ditch, weather can have a real impact on our health both physically, and mentally.
In fact, the weather's impact on your body is so significant, there's a whole scientific study devoted to it: biometeorology. The scientists study how, and why, the weather impacts the nature and human body. From worsening the symptoms of existing diseases, to prompting temporary physiological changes inside your body, the weather's effect on your health is far-reaching.
Here are six things to know about how climate and weather can affect your well-being.
1. The Winter Blues really do exist
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real affliction, commonly believed to be caused by the lack of light during the darker winter months. But even those who don't suffer from it may experience drops in mood levels and well-being during the winter months.
2. Your muscles and joints need to work harder in the cold
Drops in temperature force the muscles to contract and work harder to complete the same tasks compared to the warmer weather. The pressure change also causes muscles and joints to get tighter, which can trigger joint pain and muscle soreness.
3. Your brain is under pressure
On top of all the holiday stress, falling barometric pressures can lead to sinus issues and migraines, especially for those who already suffer from persistent headache and sinus issues to begin with.
4. Being out in the cold really might help you catch a cold
Maybe your mom was right all along. According to a new study by Yale University, the rhinovirus, the virus responsible for the common cold, tends to be more successful at temperatures that are lower than average body temperature. The rapid temperature swings can also weaken your immune system.
5. Blood pressure is higher in the winter
Low temperature causes the blood vessels to narrow. Higher blood pressure, an increased risk of blood clots, and challenging activities like shoveling snow contribute to the risk.
All hope is not lost, though!
6. Extreme weather can bring out our empathy, too
Little things like shoveling your neighbor’s driveway, getting outside with friends and family, and donating to local charities during the holidays can bring communities together and draw out people's empathy. The sense of shared hardship is a powerful builder of community, which is known to improve overall health outcomes. “One of the sole upsides of severe weather may be the communal spirit and acts of kindness that emerge,” Huffington Post wrote. That helps to explain the Minnesota Nice spirit.
Massage Therapy can help improve and maintain blood circulation, joint flexibility, and overall psychological well-being. It may not warm up the temps outside, but regular bodywork appointments with Living Touch Massage can help make surviving Minnesota winters easier and more enjoyable.