Lets start with this. Please know that there’s no such thing as “catching a cold” from cold temperatures. You wouldn’t believe how many people still have this huge misconception that cold temperatures can make you sick…
Cold temperatures do NOT make you sick!
In fact, did you know that there are multiple studies that actually show that exposure to cold increases your immunity? One study I read recently even showed that cold therapy such as ice water baths or other cold water exposure (such as cold water swimming) stimulates an improvement in your immune system. Sure, cold and flu season is, in fact, from October to March. But this has nothing to do with being exposed to cool temperatures. Rather, falling ill has everything to do with clocking more time indoors whilst breathing the same air and touching the same surfaces as everyone else (sorry, germaphobes). Also, a formidable study shows the flu spreads when the humidity is low and the temperature is high. Add indoor heat to an already bone-dry home, office, or airplane creates an ideal breeding ground for a debilitating bug.
What about so-called “germs”?
Are there really more germs and cold & flu viruses floating around in the winter? No of course not. In fact, some medical articles have indicated that there might actually be a slightly larger amount of cold and flu viruses all around us in the summer due to more favorable conditions for their survival on surfaces.
So then why do more people get sick in the winter? Well, I’ll give you a hint… it’s not the temperature, but rather in large part – the strength of the suns rays and how this affects your health.
In winter in the northern hemisphere (Canada, US, Europe, etc) sicknesses spike, but at the same time, it’s summer in the southern hemisphere (South America, Australia, New Zealand, etc), and while sicknesses are spiking in the northern hemisphere, sicknesses are at their lowest point in the southern hemisphere since it’s their summer.
Then when we’re in summer in the northern hemisphere and most sicknesses go away, it’s winter in the southern hemisphere, so colds, flu, and other sicknesses spike in the southern hemisphere in July and August.
So – is it the warm temperatures that decreases sickness? No. It’s actually all about the strength of the sun’s UVB rays, and how much vitamin D your body produces due to those UVB rays.
There are 2 theories that many people pass around as to why more colds, flu, and sickness occur in the winter depending on which part of the world you’re in:
Theory 1. It may have to do with people generally spending more time indoors in the winter and thereby being exposed to more germs in enclosed buildings. It’s a nice theory, but people are generally still in offices from 9-5 all week long whether it’s summer or winter.
Theory 2. The reason people get sick more in the winter is mostly due to a drastic reduction in their body’s level of Vitamin D, which is directly responsible for how strong their immune system is.
The suns rays are too weak in the winter generally (depending on the latitude that you live), and therefore, Vitamin D levels in the body drop significantly, which reduces immunity. Most people don’t realize how important sunlight and Vitamin D levels really are towards so many functions inside their body, including immune system and hormone production and balance.
Even for people that get outdoors in the winter often, if you live in the northern hemisphere to the North of an imaginary line from approximately Atlanta to Los Angeles, the suns rays (UVB rays) are not strong enough in the fall and winter months (approximately October through early March) because of the low sun angle in the sky to stimulate any significant Vitamin D production inside your body.
So in the summer, if you spend a lot of time in your office, not able to soak up those UVB rays, consider taking a Vitamin D supplement.
This aspect of lack of Vitamin D production and lowered immune strength in the winter months is what is actually the REAL reason why more sickness goes around in the winter. So you can silently chuckle to yourself the next time that someone tells you to “bundle up” so you don’t catch a cold.