Extreme temperatures could have health benefits

Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 10:19 AM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - All of this winter weather we’ve been seeing in Northern Nevada could actually be good for you.

A local doctor says there are two primary benefits from being in extreme cold. The first is reducing inflammation. We use ice to do this already and cryotherapy is used by most professional athletes. It’s also a way to alleviate pain, especially in areas like the lower back.

The extreme cold could also help you live longer. To get these benefits, you don’t have to do much. Just go for a walk or hang out outside for a bit.

“Baseball players they ice their elbows after the game right? So being outside, you’re essentially icing yourself,” said Dr. Bobby Kahlon, Section Chief in Primary Care with Renown. “You’re icing your body, so decreasing inflammation. You don’t want to stand out there with no clothing and get frostbite though, so there’s a fine balance.”

It’s recommended the elderly and people with heart conditions should try to avoid spending too much time in cold weather.

As far as how long you can be out in cold temperatures, everyone’s different, but signs to look out for include shivering, increased pain, or any kind of blue coloring in your fingers. If you see those, it’s time to go back inside.

There are also benefits to being in extreme heat, like a steam room or sauna.

“When you have stiff muscles, the cold weather’s not really good for them,” said Dr. Kahlon. “So the hot weather is already warming them up, making them looser so there’s less pain. Also, there’s vasodilation, just the opposite of what happens in the cold. There’s increased blood flow in your body and in your skin. That can have some benefits like opening pores, clearing skin cells.”