Winter Wellness: Strategies to Combat Cold Weather’s Impact on Your Body

by | Dec 1, 2023 | Issue 173, Recipes, Wellness & Lifestyle | 0 comments

Along with the cozy feelings of the holidays come earlier sunsets and colder winter weather. As the air gets cooler, you might find your body and mental health are also...

Along with the cozy feelings of the holidays come earlier sunsets and colder winter weather. As the air gets cooler, you might find your body and mental health are also going through some seasonal changes. These are things you can easily prepare for, prevent and address as winter sets in. In this article, we will explore a few ways winter weather might affect your body, how to combat these effects and ways to stay active mentally and physically during these chillier days.


Winter Weather Effects on the Body


  • Muscle Stiffness and Joint Pain: Cold weather can contribute to muscle stiffness and joint pain, making movement more challenging and uncomfortable. While cold temperatures can have an impact on people with normal muscle and joint use, it could have a greater effect on those with pre-existing conditions like arthritis or Lyme disease.


  • Dry Skin: The cold, dry air of winter can strip the skin of its natural moisture, leading to dryness, irritation, and even cracking. Those with skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis or cystic acne will most likely notice an increase in sensitivity during the winter months.  


  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): There could be an explanation for why you feel a bit down during the holidays and following cooler months, even if you feel like there isn’t a reason. With the winter months come shorter days. Reduced sunlight during winter can affect mood and lead to symptoms of SAD, including feelings of lethargy and sadness.



How to Address Winter Weather Effects


  • Warm-Up Exercises: Easily combat regular muscle stiffness and joint pain with some simple stretches and warm-ups. Prior to outdoor activities, engage in thorough warm-up exercises to increase blood flow, loosen muscles, and reduce the risk of injuries in cold weather. If you have any pre-existing conditions, ensure that any stretches or warm-ups you do are gentle on your muscles and joints and properly address any pain.


  • Moisturizing: The best way to combat dry skin is prevention! Regularly moisturizing the skin helps prevent dryness and maintains its natural barrier against harsh winter conditions. If irritation and extreme dryness persist, research a holistic care doctor or dermatologist in your area and see if they have any suggestions to combat abnormal dryness.


  • Light Therapy: Exposure to bright light, especially in the morning, can help alleviate symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder and regulate mood. An easy way to do this is to get 15 minutes of morning light and 15 minutes of evening light. Bundle up and go for a walk, or simply open your blinds and sit by the window for a while. Some people find that sun lamps are also effective in combating SAD.



Activities to Stay Physically and Mentally Active During Winter:


  • Winter Sports: Just because it is cold out doesn’t mean you can’t stay active outside. Embrace the season by engaging in activities like skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, or even just going for a walk during the warmer parts of the day. As suggested above, make sure to stretch or do some warm-up exercises inside in order to maintain good muscle and joint health.


  • Indoor Workouts: If winters get too bitingly cold where you live, there are other options to stay physically active that can also improve your mental health during winter. Join a gym, take fitness classes, take up indoor rock climbing or follow online workout routines to stay active indoors. Research to see if there is an indoor pool near you and join for a low-impact way to exercise. Keeping active is also proven to improve mental health. So, continuing to exercise during the winter months could not only help your physical well-being but also your mental and emotional well-being. A lot of these indoor exercises can also help you socialize more this winter. Grab a group of friends and join a Pilates class, or see if you could join an indoor running group. The possibilities are endless!


  • Puzzles and Books: Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise, especially if you are looking for ways to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder or regulate your mood with less light during the daytime. Nothing is better than curling up by a warm fire and reading a book or putting a puzzle together. Both of these activities are great ways to engage your mind and tune out any racing thoughts for any amount of time. You could pick up a book while waiting for something to bake or work on a puzzle when you have some downtime and need to be doing something. These don’t have to be activities done alone, either! Joining a monthly book club can help you meet new people, or having friends over for dinner and a night of puzzles and games can help you enjoy social interactions with people you have established relationships with already.



You don’t have to endure the winter months with persisting pain, skin irritation and feelings of sadness without knowing how to combat them. While everyday muscle and joint pain can worsen with cold weather, stretching and warming up before going outside or participating in outdoor activities can help ease any stiffness. Along with stretching before being outside in the cold, be sure to put on your favorite moisturizer to prevent any dryness or skin irritation. It’s good to put this into practice, even when you’re inside, as house heaters can also dry out the air, causing skin irritation. If you do choose to take a walk outside, remember that the sunlight can also help regulate your moods and aid in combating Seasonal Affective Disorder. Don’t be afraid to pick up a new hobby or join a club to meet new people and boost your mood! Combating the effects of cold weather starts with taking these easy and practical steps toward a winter full of physical and mental well-being.


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