The key to staying healthy, warm, and safe this winter is to not over think. There are a lot of old wives’ tales about what you should and shouldn’t do this time of year, and some need some debunking.
1. Winter weather causes colds
Nope. GERMS make you sick, not cold weather. Colds are caused by bacteria or viruses and both live all year long.
2. It’s bad to exercise outside when it’s cold
Other than it’s cold, there’s nothing wrong with it as long as you’re dressed appropriately and in temperatures above -18°. In those cases, you risk hypoethermia and frostbite. ☃
3. You need to let your car warm up
Most cars warm up quicker when they’re being driven. I KNOW! How many years of my life have I wasted following the rules?!
4. Drinking alcohol warms you up
Alcohol actually decreases your body temperature and increases your risk of hypothermia. You may feel warm, but it’s actually your blood being shunted away from your core and toward your skin, giving the sensation of heat while harming your overall temperature regulation.
5. Orange juice and vitamin C will cure your cold
The key is to boost your immune system with a nutrient-rich diet — including vitamin c and zinc — exercise, and plenty of sleep.
6. Allergies are not a big deal
Most of the allergies that hit us in the winter are indoor, like animal dander, mold, dust, cockroaches, and mites. You get more sinus symptoms with these allergies, which is why some think they have a sinus infection that just won’t quit. The rule is see a doc if it keeps happening or if any one issue lasts more than nine days.
7. Putting cat litter or sand bags in your trunk helps keep you from sliding on icy roads
Most cars today don’t need it, even though it makes sense with rear-wheel drive. And, the extra weight can throw the car off balance, making it even tougher to steer.
8. You don’t need sunscreen in cold weather
UV rays will really get after you on cold, cloudy, and snowy days so you need to slather on at least SPF 30, even in winter. Snow reflects about 80% of UV radiation whereas sand only reflects about 25%. So there.
9. You can’t get a flu shot if it’s below 40° outside
The flu virus is activated in temperatures below 55°; doctors recommend September and October as best months for a flu shot.
10. Feed a fever, starve a cold
The truth is you need to drink plenty of fluids, with either a cold or a fever, while eating plenty of nutritious food (which we should all be doing even before falling ill). So the thing about chicken soup is technically true.
11. Most of your body heat leaves through your head
Not even if your brain is cooking with the world’s greatest ideas. Since the human head makes up about 7% of the body surface area, it’s heat loss is just about that much. Your mom will still want you to wear a hat in cold weather and you should listen to her.
12. You can get the flu from a flu shot
The flu shot does not contain a live virus, so there’s nothing for you to catch. Can’t happen. Docs remind us that it takes two weeks to build immunity after you get the shot, so go for earlier rather than later.
13. The suicide rate goes up in the winter
Spring is actually the most common season for suicide. It’s theorized that spring sunshine triggers hormonal changes, affecting circadian rhythm and increasing agitation, possibly leading to self-harm. Another theory is those suffering from deep depression are too lethargic to take action in the dark greyness of winter.
14. Use hot water to de-ice your windshield
If you have a crack, the drastic change from cold to hot will make the crack worse. Do this instead: 2 parts rubbing alcohol and 1 part water in a spray bottle. Easy peasy.
15. Start you car on your lunch break at work to make sure it’ll start at quitting time
Nope. If it starts after being in the cold all night, it’s probably going to start after being at work in the daylight for eight hours.
So, what have we learned? Sweaters and jackets? Yes. Hats? Yep. Tissues and firewood? Probably. Plenty of nutritious foods and drinking fluids, especially water? You bet. Overthinking winter? No way!
Stay safe and warm!