The cold winter memories (shoveling snow while bundled up like the famed abominable snowman) start to quickly fade away when you notice more sundresses, waffle ice cream cones, and kids in the park. You’re ready to fully embrace the warmer temperatures (hello, beach), but beware: the weather may have an impact on your health that you weren’t expecting.
As much as we would like to believe that we can completely control our health through our daily nutrition and commitment to fitness, we can’t underestimate the effect that changes in weather may have on our health. In fact, there’s an entire scientific study dedicated to the relationship between weather and living organisms: biometeorology. (If that’s not a sign that it’s a pretty big deal, we don’t know what is.)
So while you’re locking up your winter boots and preparing yourself to head outdoors more often, take note of these five ways that the change in weather is probably going to affect your health.
Do you notice your blood pressure numbers decreasing when the weather gets warmer? Well, it’s hardly an anomaly. Your systolic and diastolic blood pressure numbers change when confronted with warmer weather, so when the sun starts shining in the spring and summer, your blood pressure generally gets lower. But during the cold winter months, you can expect the diameter of blood vessels to tighten, causing the heart to work overtime to force blood through the narrowed veins and arteries. So you’ll see a spike in blood pressure when it’s cold and a decrease in numbers when it’s warm. That being said, if your blood pressure numbers plummet drastically during the summer, see your doctor and make sure you are eating the recommended serving of nutritionally dense foods, committing to an active lifestyle, and reducing your salt and alcohol intake.
Your joints are sensitive to temperature, which is why you may sometimes notice that the onset of a storm or frigid climate can cause your joints to go haywire. Doctors often recommend warmer climates for individuals with joint pain because cold weather causes muscles, ligaments, and tendons to become stiff. According to researchers, cold weather causes added pressure on the joints. So when the weather shifts from cold to warmer temperatures, your joints experience a bit of pain relief. But when you are exposed to heat for long periods of time, your body may experience dehydration, which decreases the amount of fluid in the joint. This exacerbates existing pain levels.
Headaches & Migraines
If you have frequent migraines, you may experience lower workplace productivity and missed social events that can dampen your quality of life. You’re not alone: Nearly 1 in 8 Americans have frequent migraines, and studies have shown that more than half of migraine sufferers are impacted by changes in temperature, barometric pressure, or humidity. Researchers believe these changes in weather patterns may affect the pressure on the brain or the way the brain manages pain. So how is this going to affect you come spring and summer? When the warm weather begins to kick in or the days get longer, exposure to bright sunlight might trigger a migraine or a headache.
Extreme cold or hot weather conditions can aggravate those with asthma symptoms. The airways become irritated by these sudden swings in temperature. If you’re inhaling cold air, on the one hand, it can constrict the airways. During the warmer months, on the other hand, asthma sufferers have to deal with pollutants and exhaust fumes that are hard to escape, especially if you generally breathe air through your mouth like most people with asthma. So as the temperatures start to rise come summer, be prepared for potentially aggravated asthma symptoms.
If you’re dealing with eczema, your skin will enjoy the relief that comes when the weather becomes warmer. Cold dry weather is an annoying adversary to those battling eczema, causing cracks, itches, and dry skin that shows its unruly side and leaves you searching for the best moisturizers on the market. On the other hand, you don’t want your body to become too overheated during the summer months. However, heat and humidity can also trigger eczema symptoms so make sure you’re staying cool.