At this time of year, cold is the protagonist. Whether it is dry or wet cold, depending on the area where we are, the only way to counteract its effects is by protecting yourself and warming up.
It’s obvious that cold affects our health, but do you know what its effects are?
During winter season, risk of heart attack increases due to the constriction of blood vessels, which increases risk of obstruction especially in those who suffer from chronic disease, people with obesity and smokers.
Another effect is the increase of diseases due to the lowering of immune system’s defenses. Cold weakens our immune system leaving it exposed to virus and bacteria.
In addition, cold favors the appearance of contractures and muscular stiffnesses, not only by vessel constriction, but also due to postures we usually acquire. This is the time when we should be most careful with our postural ergonomics and muscles, since a slight contracture can trigger much more important problems such as: headaches, migraines, back pain…
Some people suffer from seasonal depression. This is closely linked to a person’s character and attitude, but statistics show that there are more cases of depression in autumn and winter, caused by lack of motivation in the winter landscape and shorter days.
As far as the skin is concerned, most exposed areas such as cheeks, lips, eyes, neck and hands are the ones that suffer most from the weather. To protect it properly, we propose the following advice:
– Take a shower with warm water and, as far as possible, no more than once a day, as this would increase the rate of dehydration of our skin.
– Use soft shower gel, with neutral pH and dermatologically tested. On the face, neck, neckline and nape, use a cleansing cosmetic product and toner.
– Moisturize the skin all over the body daily, several times a day on the most exposed areas. This is especially important if you have atopic skin or suffer from dermatitis or psoriasis. Use suitable cosmetics for each area (face, body, hands…)
– Weekly exfoliate to keep skin free of dead cells and impurities. This will optimize the action of face and body moisturizing products.
– Avoid excessive hand washing, and if necessary, moisturize frequently. Use gloves to protect your hands, especially if you suffer from cold sensitivity, perniosis (chilblains) or Raynaud’s (hands and fingers that turn blue and red)
– Moisturize your lips several times a day.
– Use sunscreen, especially at high altitudes.
– Avoid sudden temperature changes (going from hot to cold rooms or vice versa) as this increases the risk of dilated capillaries and spider veins on the cheeks.
– Use sunglasses to protect eyes and skin around them. This is especially important if there is snow or we are at high altitudes.
– Eat a balanced diet, increase your intake of vitamin C and antioxidants, and drink 1.5-2L of water a day. Avoid alcohol and tobacco.
Although it may seem like a negative season, winter also has beneficial effects on our bodies. One of these benefits is related to sleep quality, on winter, temperature of our homes is usually optimal for sleeping, unlike summer, when excessive heat and humidity interfere with the hours of rest.
It’s also beneficial for all those people who suffer from tired legs and edema. Cold favors return circulation of the lymphatic and circulatory system, making the swelling decrease and favoring the well-being of lower extremities.
As for physical activity, we are generally more motivated to do it when temperatures are colder. In order to maintain body temperature, our body keeps us more active and predisposed to physical exercise. What we do have to consider, and it’s very important, is that we must do warm-up exercises beforehand, as muscles and tendons contract in cold, without warm-up we would increase the chances of injury.