There’s a lot of information out there on how to stay healthy during the winter months. You’ve definitely heard some common seasonal tidbits of advice at some point – perhaps you were told that going outside with wet hair would make you sick, or that drinking and taking lots of Vitamin C would help beat a cold.
Unfortunately, many common pieces of advice people use to guide their winter habits are based on myth, not fact. As a result, the things you’re doing to take care of yourself this season might not be working – and in some cases, it could be contributing to a long-term potential health problem. That’s why this season, we want to help you separate fact from fiction so you can properly take care of yourself. Here’s the truth behind some of the most common winter health myths:
1.Cold winter air alone won’t make you sick – even if you go out with wet hair. There’s a couple myths out there stating that cold winter air alone will somehow make you sick; as a result, we’re told to bundle up and dry our hair before going outside. However, while wearing proper clothing is very important in preventing exposure-related health problems, cold temperatures and cold air alone won’t make you sick. In reality, it’s exposure to cold and flu viruses (and not your unbuttoned coat or wet hair) that can ultimately make you sick.
2.Failing to wear a hat won’t lead to you losing most of your body heat. The old myth that we lose up to 50% of our body heat from our heads is just that: a myth, based on faulty studies from the 1950s. Newer studies concluded that you lose about 7% of your body heat from your head, a much more proportionate loss. So while leaving your hat at home won’t be exceptionally comfortable on a chilly day, you certainly won’t lose half of your body heat because of it!
3.Holiday-related weight gain isn’t likely to be extreme – but it can’t be ignored, either. There’s this old idea that people – women in particular – tend to gain around 10 pounds during the holiday season. You’re actually much more likely to gain one or two pounds. However, it’s important to note that research indicates many people fail to shed these extra couple pounds after the holidays end. As a result, the extra weight often adds up over time, and can contribute to your likelihood of becoming overweight and experiencing other weight-related health problems. The good news, though, is that just a few changes in your diet and exercise routines can quickly vanquish any extra holiday weight and help keep you on the right track this year.
4.Sunscreen isn’t just for beach trips – you need it in the winter, too. Cold winter temperatures won’t interfere with the intensity of the sun’s UV rays. In fact, because the Earth's surface is closer to the sun right now than it will be in the summer, those UV rays are more intense than you realize. Any sunlight exposure you get in winter can damage your skin as much as it would in any other season. Because of this it’s important to follow basic skincare tips this season, just as you would during sunny summer days; this includes wearing and properly applying sunscreen (or using skincare products with SPF in them) on a regular basis if you’re expecting to spend time outdoors or in the sunlight.
5. Your allergies may be to blame for some of your symptoms – not the common cold. Did you know that allergy symptoms don’t always go away during the winter? In fact, some allergies can worsen during the winter season, particularly those that stem from indoor triggers. With as many as 1 in 5 people suffering from indoor/outdoor allergies, it’s important to recognize when symptoms may be caused by bad indoor air quality and allergy triggers - otherwise, you could be missing the source of your symptoms and making yourself feel worse than you need to.
6.Taking lots of Vitamin C won’t prevent colds. You definitely know at least one person who drinks lots of orange juice and takes Vitamin C supplements when they feel like they might be catching a cold. Unfortunately, while the recommended daily dose of Vitamin C does help keep your immune system healthy, it has absolutely no impact on a cold virus itself. In fact, most experts agree that Vitamin C works as well at shortening your colds as a placebo pill; and while large doses of Vitamin C won’t cause serious harm, they can cause uncomfortable side effects. Our advice? Don’t waste too much money investing in a cold-fighting army of drinks and supplements this season, and invest in a well-balanced diet overall instead. This is much more likely to help keep your immune system working and your body healthy.
Following proper health advice will help you stay at the top of your game this winter season. Still, we understand that sometimes even the best healthy living efforts can’t keep illnesses at bay. So if you do find yourself in need of a little extra care, feel free to reach out to us - we’re always willing to see what we can do for you in our offices!
*Image courtesy of commons.wikipedia.org