Yes, it’s cold out. Again. In winter. Who’d a thunk?
As the eastern half of the U.S. gets flash-frozen and largely smothered in snow, we thought we’d try to cut through any weather-related misery by pointing out some of the greatest things about it, beyond the obvious (we’re talking to you, snowmen, snow angels and icicles).
So we’re bringing back our annual list highlighting some good, and even great, things that come about when the weather outside is frightful.
Freezing temps help kill off some ticks and mosquitoes, including some carrying the West Nile virus, says Hillcrest Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A freeze also helps kill off or reduce cockroach populations, although in December, scientists confirmed that a species of cockroach that can withstand freezing temps took up residence in New York, discovery.com says.
Breaking out the tacky sweater
The one your relatives gave you finally gets to see the light of day – at least inside your house.
Longer phone conversations
When you’re marooned indoors, you’re more likely to take the time for a long, meaningful phone conversation with an old friend, according to research by Newcastle University. A study of 1.3 million mobile phone users found that call length increased while the number of people called decreased, Science Daily says. The same happens when it’s very hot, humid or rainy.
Exercise and energy
Running in low temps can increase your energy levels and boost your mood, fitday.com says. Of course, if it’s too cold, you need to stay inside and avoid frostbite.
The cold can also help runners recover, according to a study by the National Institute of Sport, Expertise, and Performance in Paris. Of three types tested, the most effective recovery aid was whole-body cryotherapy, exposing the runners to temperatures as cold as minus-166 degrees Fahrenheit, The Atlantic says.
Some exposure to low temperatures can help activate “brown fat,” which produces heat and burns calories, according to research cited by Harvard Medical School. “No one is suggesting that cold weather be used for dieting purposes (not yet anyway). But when we get chilled this winter, we may take some consolation that at least we’re firing up those brown fat cells,” the school’s Health Letter said in January 2010.
Other health benefits
Exposure to cold weather can help your body fight inflammation in joints and reduce pain, Hillcrest Medical Center says.
Skip the cold sauna, save money!
That trip you were planning to join in on a hot new trend – the cold sauna – can now be replaced by a quick jaunt outdoors! Then again, if you want the full experience, you’ll have to keep those plans. According to spafinder.com, the cold sauna has a cold temperature “not found anywhere on earth – brace yourself, we’re talking minus-110 degrees Celsius (minus-167 Fahrenheit).
Live longer, if you’re a worm
“Studies looking at worms, mice and muscles found exposure to cold temperatures can result in longer lives,” Hillcrest says. “For mice, lifespan increased by up to 20 percent when the core body temperature was reduced.”
The effect of cold on people’s lifespans has not been determined. “It’s too early to say, but it is possible our research applies to humans, because the genetic pathway we identified is found in people,” said Shawn Xu, author of a study at the University of Michigan, according to prevention.com.
And the biggest benefit to cold weather:
Look awesome prepping for a boxing match …
… against Dolph Lundgren.