Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Winter weather withers your health

By the end of winter, your mood can start to feel as bleak at the melting snow outside.

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian
Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Weather affects mood and your health. It’s one of the reasons way many people escape the cold and dreary New England winters in favor of the warm beaches of Florida. In addition to not shivering, the warm weather vacation have the added incentive of potentially being a huge mood booster for souls sinking under winter’s harshness.

In the winter, most students are hardly venture outside except for their trips to class. But, these short walks outside frequently do not offer enough exposure to sunlight for students to get enough vitamin D. While the research is still uncertain, it has been suggested the vitamin D might influence bone health and your immune system.

According to Deborah Kotz of US News, in the winter, it’s impossible to obtain vitamin D from the sun if you live north of Atlanta because the sun is never high enough in the sky for its ultraviolet B rays to enter the atmosphere. So, even if you are outside skiing, you won’t be receiving vitamin D from the sun. The government’s dietary recommendations are 200 IUs a day up for college students, but many experts believe that these recommendations are too low to maintain healthy vitamin D levels.

To put this in perspective, the Vitamin D Council explains during the summer a medium skin toned person would have to stand outside in Boston for one hour to synthesize 1000 IU of vitamin D. The Council suggests people supplement their diet with about 2,000 IUs per day in the winter, but only a dose of daily sunshine in the summer.

Lack of vitamin D could be a reason why illnesses are more frequent in the winter than any other month.

Another effect of winter weather is Seasonal Affective Disorder, with the ironic acronym SAD, a depression that occurs at a certain time of the year, usually in the winter and, rarely, in the summer. PubMed Health says that SAD may begin during the teen years or in adulthood. People who live in places with long winter nights are at greater risk for SAD.

In New England, many people favor spring and fall, as the trees are beautiful, the air smells fresh and the temperatures are the most comfortable. This could explain why people who live in non-temperate places such as San Francisco appear to be so happy.  Pleasant weather improves people’s moods, memory and broadens cognitive thinking skills.

It’s not just cold weather that can influence how someone feels. Extremely hot weather can actually lower overall moods, causing people to feel more tired and sluggish. In the summer, a person can become uncomfortably hot and sweaty just by stepping foot outside of an air-conditioned area.

Even spending too much time indoors during nice weather tends to decrease mood and diminish critical thinking patterns. We resent being cooped-up inside when springtime arrives. It’s called spring fever. But right now – when I can’t even take a deep breath of air without the insides of my nose freezing up – it is the perfect time to be cozy and snuggle up indoors.

It is amazing that Mother Nature can affect us so easily. I think that the best part about living in New England is that we have the versatility of seasons. You never get bored, because as we know, New England weather is unpredictable, but when it does follow its “guidelines,” every three months is a nice breath of fresh air.

Karen Podorefsky is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected].

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    Lydia BradyMar 20, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Karen, your mom sent me your articles tjat you have beenwriting for the newspaper. I love this one about the weather. You are a real New Englander. You are a good writer. Keep it up. You neverknow where it may lead you.