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Health benefits from our commonly cold weather

A Sanford doctor says moderate cold exposure could be the boost people need for their day.

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Two people brave the cold in downtown Fargo.
Sam Goetzinger / WDAY News

FARGO — While many may like to focus on the negative aspects of the winter season, there are some positives to the unbearable chill.

The winter months mean we have to shovel off the driveway more times then we want, wear enough clothes to look like a seven-layer cake and risk the chance of frostbite every day. But, the sub-zero temps aren't all bad.

"It changes your physiology in a positive way if you get that cold exposure," said Dr. Eric Thompson from Sanford Health, who specializes in lifestyle medicine and integrated health.

Taking some time to get a quick walk or jog outside can help burn some extra calories left over from the holidays, because the body has to work harder to maintain its core temperature.

"You just have more grit..... I don't know, bravado," Dr. Thompson said.


The cold can even boost the brain and heart.

"Catecholamines get released every morning, we just kind of amp that up a little bit with cold exposure. So, you get that more cognition benefit, more mental acuity, that maintains throughout the day," Thompson said.

Believe it or not, the cold weather can even help your sleep schedule and give you that needed jolt to wake up.

"You are going to get that adrenaline spike in the morning so your day is better overall, but don't do your exercise at night so no night skiing or skating because that might mess up your sleep," he said.

Thompson also says cold exposure will also give out eustress , which will help people become more resilient and cope with more stress.

So, the next time you want to complain about the cold, look at it on the bright side. It's not all bad. Just remember to enjoy the cold responsibly.

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