Why do people feel sluggish in winter?

What the cold does to our body

Clear air, freezing cold and snow that glistens in the sun: you can hardly imagine a more beautiful setting for a winter walk. And exercise is good, even in sub-zero temperatures, as all experts agree. But there are exceptions, explains cardiologist Prof. Thomas Meinertz from the German Heart Foundation.

If you have a heart disease, you should hold back a little with the movement, because: "Extreme cold can lead to a heart attack or sudden cardiac death in the event of exceptional stress."Studies also show that the risk of having a heart attack increases with falling temperatures. And because snow often has to be shoveled in winter, the scientists also took a closer look. The result: a noticeably large number of people with heart diseases got serious ones when clearing snow Problems.

Cold legs, warm heart

There is an explanation for the phenomenon: Our body wants to protect vital organs in the cold. It means hard work for the heart because it has to pump harder. Because when it's frosty outside, the blood vessels contract. This means that less warm blood flows through the outer layers of the skin and the body saves heat. This effect is particularly noticeable on the arms and legs. An experience that anyone who has been without gloves in sub-zero temperatures has already had.

Danger of Cystitis increases

The pelvic area is also one of the regions that cool down particularly strongly in the cold. "Unfortunately, freezing temperatures create good conditions for bladder infections"says general practitioner and urologist Dr. Michael Ostermann."The lower blood flow weakens the immune system. And the white blood cells that fight the bacteria get sluggish."But with simple countermeasures like thick socks and long johns, you can defy the cold.

Painful joints

Rheumatics and people with osteoarthritis also suffer more when it is cold than usual. This is also due to the changed blood flow, explains Michael Ostermann. "The joints are simply not so well taken care of. The best therapy here, too, dress warmly and move gently."

It is not that easy to cope with another circumstance to which we are often exposed in winter, explains the general practitioner: Because we often stay in warm, not well-ventilated rooms, the mucous membranes dry out and are more susceptible to germs, for example colds .

Paradise for germs

The common cold - despite its name - has much less to do with the cold than one might assume. Researchers at the Institute for Cold Research in Salisbury, England, investigated this in the early 1950s. To do this, they put their test subjects shivering and dripping wet in a draughty hallway. And that was not all, because the test subjects also had to wear wet socks.

The comparison group, on the other hand, was allowed to make itself comfortable in a warm room. Then the scientists inject cold viruses into the noses of all study participants. The result: the same number of people caught colds in both groups. Today it is assumed that in winter it is not because of the cold that people cough and sniff more, but because during this time of the year they sit together more often in musty rooms where the germs feel particularly comfortable.

Get out in the fresh air

The bottom line is: Get out into the fresh air, even when the temperatures drop. This also applies to people with heart and joint problems. Because warmly wrapped up and with a little caution, winter can be wonderfully enjoyed. And if you are lucky, you can even catch a few rays of sunshine in the darker months of the year. And they are not only good for the body but also for the soul.

Status: 07.01.2017, 06:00