Sure, a little snow around the holidays makes for a pretty postcard.
But out here in the real world, anyone “dreaming” of a white Christmas probably doesn’t have to shovel the stuff.
As the holiday creeps closer, the temperatures fall lower. And when it comes to weather, the worst is still to come.
There are long, cold, dark days ahead in January and February. Depending on where you live, you could face freezing temperatures, heavy snow, ice, and more.
There are entire WEEKS where you might not feel like leaving the house.
It turns out, at times, that might not be such a bad idea. Because studies show that as the temperatures drop, certain risks climb.
And surprisingly, that includes the biggest risk of all, heart risk.
Heart attack risk RISES when temps FALL
One 16-year study out of Sweden shows just how high those risks can climb.
Whenever the temperature dips below freezing, the number of heart attacks per day jumps when compared to days where the temperature is above 50.
That means if you live in the two dozen or so states which have winter temperatures of 32 degrees or below, you too could be at a much higher risk of a heart attack.
Experts say there are a couple of reasons why the risk climbs so dramatically.
First, when you are exposed to cold, your blood vessels naturally constrict. At the same time, your heart rate rises, and your blood pressure climbs.
Generally, it’s nothing to be alarmed about. It’s a natural reaction that helps your body regulate your temperature.
However, if your heart isn’t in tip-top shape, there’s a chance it could trigger a heart attack.
2 simple steps to protect yourself this winter
Of course, that automatic rise in heart rate and blood pressure isn’t the only threat during the winter. Colds, flu, and pneumonia start making the rounds too.
And respiratory tract infections can, of course, raise your heart attack risk, too.
In fact, one University of Sydney study found that your heart attack risk jumps 17-fold following a major respiratory infection.
Two basic steps can help you reduce your main wintertime risks…
- Boost your D: Less sun means your body has fewer opportunities to make vitamin D. If you’re not taking a supplement already, it’s definitely time to talk with your doctor about starting. The sunshine vitamin can help protect the heart and boost the immune system at the same time.
- Stay smart: You’re no spring chicken anymore, so don’t let pride get the best of you. If you’re not in shape to shovel snow, get someone else to do it. And if you’re prone to falling even in ideal conditions, don’t set foot outside when it’s icy out if you can avoid it. Ask for help or slip a grandchild or neighbor kid some cash to run errands and shovel for you.
Once you reach a certain age, winter weather is better experienced from the safety of your living room window. Hopefully, with a hot coffee in hand.