10 Surprising Health Benefits Of Snow Very Few People Know About
Though many of us tend to associate winter with colds or a greater likelihood of getting sick, there are actually plenty of ways to have a health boosting snow day!
1. Consider It Nature’s Way Of Giving You a Free Workout
Though snow may be a lot of fun if you're actually in the mood to play in it, it's not always so great when you aren't. Much like sand at the beach, snow can make even a moderately short walk a little harder to accomplish. Next time you feel yourself starting to sweat under all those layers however, take heart! The added resistance against each and every step is actually giving you a workout that's similar to the aerobic exercise you'd get at the gym. In fact, Popsugar reports that a mere hour of snowshoeing can burning up to 500 calories! The added bonus of course, being that a cool down is no further than a snow angel away.
2. The Surprising Benefits of Snowball Fights
Even if you're not up for a long snowy walk, there are still plenty of other fun ways to get in a good workout in the snow. It's estimated that running around during the course of a snowball fight can burn as many as 500 calories per hour, as can hiking up and down hills to sled. If you really want to shed some pounds, bust out a pair of snow skis. An hour of cross country skiing can burn more than 570 calories.
3. Building A Snowman Is Good For The Soul...and Heart!
Building a friendly snowman can not only metaphorically warm your heart, but is actually also pretty good cardio. Apparently all the snow rolling, gathering, and general building process combined is enough to burn about 300 calories an hour. So go ahead, and make Frosty fancy.
4. Get Your Hibernate On
Despite the health benefits of a good night's sleep, it's still often the first thing to go when many of us are feeling stressed or busy. What better excuse to catch up on a few much needed hours of rest than a snow day? Not only is it the perfect reason to stay in bed, scientists believe that the decrease in sunlight that comes with winter weather actually triggers the brain to produce melatonin, the "sleep hormone" that makes it easy for your body to get a good night's sleep after a fun day of playing in the snow.
5. Snow Days Can Be Nature’s Way Of Forcing You To Take It Easy
It's happened to all of us- you've got bills to pay, work to do, kids to take to various activities, and that's only the beginning of your to-do list. Ironically, the times we most need a break from all of life's little tasks can be the time's it's hardest to convince ourselves to actually take one. It's estimated that up to 40% of Americans don't take advantage of their vacation days at work even if they are paid time off.
That said, the next time you find yourself snowed in, take advantage of the rare opportunity to do absolutely nothing. Whether it's a Netflix binge with a cup of hot chocolate or a meditation session while the kids are curled up watching a movie, the chance to just slow down and take a breather can lead to a much more productive work week when the weather gets warm again.
6. Consider It An Opportunity to Catch Up On Your Reading
Even if building snowmen doesn't happen to be your thing, there are still plenty of ways to turn a snow day into a mental health day. Next time you find yourself trapped inside, grab your favorite freakishly soft blanket and get your read on. Even starting a good book can give you the drive to go ahead and finish it in the coming weeks, a habit that's well worth getting into. Research shows that reading can not only reduce stress but also improves brain function and can help prevent Alzheimer's disease.
7. Winter Weather Can Promote Spring Gardening Activity
Not only does snowy weather promote healthy wintertime activity, it's also helping lay the ground to get you back into your garden in the spring. Though it may not seem like many plants and cold weather would be a great combo, snow actually provides a layer of insulation for roots and bulbs that helps protect them from the cold. In addition, snow can help turn dead leaves and grass into mulch that provide nutrition and upon melting even keeps your plants watered.
8. Snowy Weather Can Help Promote Healthy Eating Habits
Few of us can claim innocence when it comes to putting convenience over nutrition every now and then but snowy weather can be a great time to try and break the habit. When it's hard to order in or go out for fast food, you may be more likely to cook a healthy meal rather than opt for a quick and easy option. Take the chance to check out new and healthy recipes that you can turn into regulars for future dinner options.
Not only does eating at home tend to make for healthier meals with fewer calories, family dinners are also a great habit to get into for your kids' sake. According to research from Cornell Univeristy, regularly eating dinners together makes kids 12% less likely to develop obesity, 24% more likely to prefer healthy food, and 35% less likely to develop eating disorders later on in life. Health.com reports that regularly spending time together with family can help kids perform better in school and less likely to get involved with drugs and alcohol.
9. Cold Weather Is A Natural Pain Reliever
When it comes to acute aches and pains, cold weather can actually be a good thing. Cold in general can restrict blood vessels, which in turn slows down the body's circulation and reduces swelling. Studies also show that in addition to numbing nerve endings to reduce pain, cold can also boost blood levels of norepinephrine, a natural pain reliever.
10. Cold Weather Can Boost Your Metabolism
Though few would argue that it's a fun thing, the next time you find yourself shivering, rest assured that at least you're getting a nice trade-off in the deal. Studies show that shivering can increase your metabolism by up to five times the normal rate.
Even the mild cold of temperatures around 64 degrees Fahrenheit can have health benefits by inducing what researchers call non-shivering thermogenesis (NST), a process by which our bodies begin to burn off energy in order to keep us warm. This can significantly improve your body's calorie burning ability and cut down on holiday weight gain even if you're packing in a couple extra calories.