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January 17, 2018

Common Winter Health Myths, Debunked

As a child, how many times were you told cold weather could make you sick? Perhaps your parent told you not to leave the house with wet hair or to always wear a hat, lest you catch a cold or other illness. 

But the truth is, being cold doesn’t cause illness, germs do, notes Penn Medicine. And being in such close proximity with others during the winter months is primarily why more of us get sick when it’s colder.

Here are more common winter health myths, debunked.

4 Winter Health Myths Debunked

Myth No. 1: You don’t need sunscreen during winter.

The lack of sunlight plus the full body clothing that usually comes along with the season could make anyone think they don’t need to wear sunscreen when venturing outdoors in the winter. However, that’s not the case. Up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays can still penetrate the cloudy skies, even if it looks like a dreary day.

Add to that the aging effects of winter’s harsh weather on the skin, and you’ll want to keep the sunscreen handy. (Not only does it protect against sun damage, it has proven anti-aging properties.)

Myth No. 2: Hand sanitizer doesn’t work.

While washing your hands with soap and water is the best way to prevent illness, hand sanitizer can lower the number of germs on your hands if you find yourself without access to soap or water.

When selecting a hand sanitizer, make sure it’s alcohol based and keep in mind:

  • It won’t kill all germs
  • It may not work as well if your hands are dirty or greasy
  • And it won’t get other harmful substances like chemicals off your hands

Myth No. 3: Starve a fever.

Like the “you’ll catch a cold if you don’t wear a hat,” myth, you’ve likely heard the old adage “starve a fever, feed a cold.”

This myth likely began when some medical professionals thought not eating would cool a body down, thus allowing a fever to dissipate. The problem with this advice, though, is that your body needs proper nutrients — especially when sick. That’s because our bodies actually need more calories to recover from an infection when we have a fever.

Myth No. 4: You shouldn’t exercise in cold weather.

The dreary days of winter can make it difficult to get outside for some exercise — add to that the worry of falling from slippery conditions — and the idea of exercising in cold weather can seem extremely unappealing. If you’re up for it, however, and have the proper winter gear, exercising outdoors during winter can be just as beneficial as doing so during the warmer months. Just make sure you warm up first. Suddenly becoming active during cold temperatures can cause cardiovascular strain.



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