SIX SURPRISING HEALTH BENEFITS OF COLD WEATHER (Huffington Post):
1) Cold weather burns calories. You may have heard of "brown fat," a type of fat found naturally in parts of the body that, when triggered, can burn off other "white" fat. In a 2012 study, researchers found that cold weather seemed to set the brown fat into motion, and that simply being cold could cause significant calorie burn. (Exercise may have a similar effect, as demonstrated in a study from around the same time, the New York Times reported.) Experts caution that the obesity epidemic is not likely to be solved by the creation of a brown-fat triggering pill. But at least the idea might offer a little comfort when you find yourself chilled to the bone.
2) Cold weather brings us closer. It can be tempting to spend the coldest mornings safely tucked under the covers; it's only natural to want to avoid the most brutal temps. But during periods of such weather-induced isolation, we tend to reach out to contact our closest friends and family on the phone, and end up chatting with them for longer than usual, according to a 2012 study.
3) Cold weather is less hospitable for disease-carrying bugs. During the summer of 2012 -- when West Nile cases were climbing -- much was made of the milder 2011-2012 winter and its effect on the disease-spreading mosquito population.The pests thrive in milder climates, meaning they were able to survive -- and breed -- all winter, just waiting to feast come spring. Freezing or below-freezing temps might kill off some skeeters (and ticks), thereby protecting you from the illnesses they are known to spread.
4) Cold weather brings greater appreciation of brighter days. Week after week of balmy weather sounds pretty lovely right about now, but there's evidence to suggest that it doesn't necessarily make you happy. In fact, some research suggests that if the weather never changes, you start taking that sunshine for granted. Shivering through the cold makes those warm spring days seem even better when they finally come along, according to Psychology Today.
5) Cold weather can reduce inflammation. There's a reason putting ice on an injury works. That drop in temperature reduces inflammation in, say, a sprained ankle or stubbed toe. But the theory works on a much grander scale, too -- cold temperatures can reduce inflammation and pain all over.
6) Cold weather may boost your body image. While we certainly don't advise going all-out on the wintertime comfort foods, we do appreciate the escape from the pressure to get a "bikini body." It's a great time to focus on fitness -- hello, New Year's resolutions -- without the pressure to do so for your looks alone.