12:00 AM, December 15, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 15, 2012

Winter wellness: Myth and truth

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Star Health Desk

There are many myths persist about what problems can arise to our health during winter season. But most of them are not true scientifically. It is important to distinguish truth from myth, in order to reduce your winter risk by understanding some common myths — and the actual truth behind them.
Myth: Bundle up or you will catch a cold.
Truth: Being in the cold has nothing to do with getting a cold. The thing to remember is that viruses cause colds, not to weather. Cold viruses are passed from person to person, not through shivering temperatures. In fact, the reason colds spread faster in winter is because people are more likely to be inside within close proximity to each other.
Myth: You should not exercise in the cold.
Truth: It is absolutely fine to exercise in the cold, just make sure you warm up first. That may mean walking a bit before starting on a vigorous run, or avoiding a big hill until you are acclimated to the temperature. Sudden physical exertion in cold weather can, at times, be a risk for cardiovascular strain.
Myth: I do not need sunscreen during the winter.
Truth: The sun is lower in the sky in winter, but that does not mean you do not need to protect your skin. Even if you can not see the sun, it is still there. More importantly, its UV rays are still there as well. If you are going to be outside for a long amount of time, you need to wear sunscreen to protect your skin.
Myth: You can not get allergies in the winter months.
Truth: In the winter, there is good and bad news for allergy sufferers. If you have pollen allergies, they will be better in the winter, but if you are sensitive to indoor allergens, such as pet dander or dust mites, your allergies may be even worse. So although your sneezing and sniffling may not be from seasonal culprits, your indoor allergies could be more bothersome than usual.
Myth: Hot meals will keep you healthier than cold meals.
Truth: Most foods are better for us in their natural state. Once food is heated it begins to lose some nutrients. Hot foods are often comfort foods, and may make us feel better about the cold weather.

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